Jill Richardson

People in the transportation industry, including Michigan Department of Transportation officials, have been telling us for years the state’s bridge system is, in many respects, in exceedingly poor condition.

Mining Journal readers heard it again Monday in a front page story titled, “Bridge to somewhere: Everyone agrees the state’s bridge system is badly in need of repair; the question is, who will pay?”

And, of course, the subhead tells the story, doesn’t it? Everyone, pretty much every time out, agrees that government-owned and maintained bridges need an infusion of cash. But where will the money come from?

According to MDOT, the situation is alarming but by no means irretrievable. State-owned bridges need about $70 million for repair and bridges owned by local agencies like counties, cities and villages need $31 million more.

Put another way, the disease state bridges suffer from is the same one state roads suffer from.

What are the options? All involve governments, state and national, spending more on a continuing basis for bridges, and roads. And that will more than likely mean higher taxes for all of us.

This newspaper has historically taken something of a dim view on tax increases. So often, it seems, the paying public gets little or nothing from the hike, higher tax bills aside.

For the record, we’re not endorsing that course of action, at least not yet. Clearly, though, something needs to be done about state bridges and roads. And that’s going to require an element not always present in government: Leadership.