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  • Jordan D. Smith

Major Portland Roads Rated Fair to Poor in State Study

Recently the State of Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) released its updated ratings of roads across the state. The state agency is responsible for using a standard rating system called PASER (Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating) to determine the state of major state and county roads and highways. This information is used as part of state and federal funding decisions for road projects.

In the recent evaluation, most major roads running through the City of Portland were rated fair to poor. Grand River Ave through town with the exception of the recently resurfaced area near the freeway exit and the bridge over the Grand River was rated as poor. Kent Street in the downtown area and near the freeway exit, along with Looking Glass Ave. and Lyons Rd. were also rated poor. Divine Hwy., North. Water St., Charlotte Hwy., and the southern part of Kent St. were rated as fair.

These rating do not come as a surprise to Portland City Manager Tutt Gorman who says the findings are consistent with the city’s PASER ratings. City and county governments use the PASER system to regularly evaluate local level roads. Gorman says that this sort of information was used by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in determining funding for the forthcoming Kent St. revitalization project. That project originally set for the 2023 construction was postponed due to supply chain disruptions related to water main piping needed for the project. The reconstruction of Kent St. is now set to begin in Spring 2024.

Gorman says that the city is likely to be eligible for state funding again in 2027 at which time funding will likely be directed to improve the Grand River. Ave. corridor. The city does not have any immediate plans for Looking Glass beyond routine maintenance, but needs are regularly evaluated and updated.

According to Gorman, state funding for road projects typically requires a 20% match of local funds. In Portland, those funds come from the city's 1% income tax. For non state funded road projects the income tax is the only funding source. Without that dedicated income tax fund, says Gorman, the city would not be able to afford road or infrastructure projects that don’t get state or federal funding. “While not perfect, the City’s roads and other infrastructure compares favorably to our peer communities,” says Gorman, “that is due in large part to the foresight of prior [city] councils in establishing the income tax.”

To learn more about the PASER ratings visit to view an interactive map of statewide road ratings.

PHOTOS: Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council, Fleis & VandenBrink


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