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Now Incorporating Aggregates Manager



And in That State Up North . . .

I am an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, which perhaps unfairly jades my opinion of that state up north, but I think Michigan stone producers will agree that I am spot on when I say: the Michigan Office of the Auditor General is full of crap.

The state Auditor’s office claims that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) unwisely spent $100,000 on a study of the state’s aggregates resources, all the while under the hypnotic influence of the Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA).

The audit states that industry influence may have undermined the study’s credibility because the industry wants to expand the mining of mineral aggregates. It also states that the transportation agency inappropriately split the study in two to circumvent maximum contract amounts, did not ensure that contractors did what was required, and the $100,000 study had “limited usefulness.”

MAA is having none of it. Kudos to MAA President Douglas Needham, who responded, “We are very disappointed that actions taken by the department are overshadowing the urgent need for more aggregates to rebuild Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges. The fact is, the audit found that MDOT failed to follow departmental procedures when processing a study of what is a vital need for Michigan drivers and taxpayers: increased access to the aggregates we need to rebuild our infrastructure.”

MDOT asked for MAA’s input. MAA obliged. Does the submission of relevant data somehow correspond to some kind of undue influence? I don’t think so.

Doesn’t the Michigan Office of the Auditor General have better things to do? Last time I checked, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider was quoted in the Detroit Metro-Times as saying, “Our statistics show [Michigan leads] the nation in corruption cases, by far.” I am sure there are some deals, contracts and other shenanigans the Auditor’s office can look into.

Meanwhile, according to TRIP, from 2016 to 2045, freight moved annually by trucks in Michigan is expected to increase 102% by value, the 10th highest increase in the nation. Forty-four percent of Michigan’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. And 12% of Michigan’s rural bridges are rated as poor/structurally deficient, the 11th highest share in the country.

Let’s adequately fund the repair of Michigan’s roads and bridges, not cry that the aggregates industry tried to influence a minor study.

Oh, and go Bucks!

Mark S. Kuhar, editor

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Twitter: @editormarkkuhar