As CEO of Ajax Paving Industries Inc. in Troy, I’ve experienced firsthand how Michigan’s lack of a comprehensive road funding plan has sidelined an industry more than ready, willing and able to fix our crumbling roads and bridges. As a direct result, Michigan has among the worst roads in the nation that threaten the safety of motorists more every day.
Two years ago, Ajax invested $10 million to upgrade our Brighton Hot Mix Asphalt facility with the most modern, up-to-date technology available and added staff in anticipation of a real road funding solution from Lansing. It never came.
The road building industry stood ready then — and remains ready now — to meet the challenge of fixing Michigan’s deteriorating infrastructure and roads.
With the support of the industry, the Operating Engineers has doubled its training facility in Howell, and many communities, including Detroit, have invested in technical schooling. All with the focus to Fix the Damn Roads!
Yet for four decades the Legislature has only provided short-term solutions that rob Peter to pay Paul and create uncertainty in my industry. Many Michigan contractors have sought work in other states with real road funding solutions in place to compensate for the lack of demand at home. That’s bad for Michigan’s businesses, bad for our state’s economic comeback and bad for all Michiganders.
Thankfully, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has provided a comprehensive plan to pump $2.5 billion into fixing our failing roads. If we don’t make this long overdue investment now, we will risk bridge and overpass collapses that have caused serious injuries — and in some cases, death — in other states. It is up to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support Gov. Whitmer’s plan before tragedy strikes here at home.
In addition to fixing our roads, the governor’s plan would make the greatest investment in our schools in a generation, create new opportunities for skills and career training that lead to good-paying jobs and ensure we all have access to clean drinking water.
As Michiganders, we have a choice to make: Do we want to stay on the same path of disinvestment in our infrastructure, schools and communities, or embrace this unique opportunity to invest in our state for the long run?
Gov. Whitmer’s plan paves the way to fixing our roads, growing our economy and making our great state the best place to live, work and raise a family in the country.
Jamie Jacob is CEO of Ajax Paving Industries Inc. in Troy.