LANSING (WWJ) – A Michigan lawmaker and former MDOT employee says the potholes are so bad in Michigan – that the head of the Michigan Department of Transportation should be fired, and the budget audited.
State Representative Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, telling WWJ’s Roberta Jasina that there is waste and incompetence at MDOT and taxpayers are paying the price.
“In my opinion, I think he should have been gone a long time ago,” said Dianda. “Whoever’s going to be the next governor is going to have to bring in somebody who is going to do the job, pinch the pennies and get that money on the road surface.”
Dianda, who is running for state senate, pushed for MDOT Director Kirk Steudle’s ouster a couple years ago, but did not get support for the resolution.
The Director of (MDOT) is appointed by the governor — MDOT is responsible for planning, building, and maintaining Michigan’s transportation system, which includes 9,700 miles of the state’s 120,000 miles of roads, along with:
- public transit
- rail freight and passenger systems
“I don’t think we are short on the dollars, I think we’re short on how we are spending the money,” says Dianda. “I really find it appalling that we have a lot of this overhead that’s across the department of transportation. I think we should just start looking at making a reduction on it. I mean, what is our overhead? How much money is going into the road surface? If we can’t put 85 percent of all our money into the roads and bridges — we’ve got a problem here.”
Asked if that figure is being worked into the budget? “No, that’s not happening here,” he said.
MDOT says pavement is breaking down, because of decades of under-investment in the roads.
In a statement to WWJ a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder’s office offered their full support for the work of the director — saying, “Steudle does a phenomenal job managing the available road funding allocated to the department and keeping Michigan at the forefront of mobility and autonomous vehicle development.
Major projects in the past year have come in well under budget, including the US-23 flex route, which cost $90 million when the original projection was a cost of $400 million. This frees up that funding for other infrastructure improvements.
The upcoming fiscal year will be the most we have ever appropriated on road funding in the history of our state and will have a positive impact on road improvements statewide.”
Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick says Snyder will never fire MDOT’s Steudle.
“There’s always mismanagement in government and you could order an audit of where the money is going and you could argue that there are probably too many people sitting in a room – rather than out on the road fixing the roads. But until somebody does that — it’s only speculation,” says Skubick.
Dianda is a past president of the Michigan State Employees Association, a union representing some of MDOT’s more than 2,500 employees.