SHORT TAKES: Winter hits budgets, infrastructure hard

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:34 am on Tuesday, March 04, 2014

This year’s winter wonderland is causing municipal governments all across Michigan to wonder if or when Mother Nature’s assault on their operations will subside.

Budgets for personnel, fuel, salt and equipment maintenance needs have been hard hit at a time when we’re scrambling to find funds to fix roads already in poor condition. Furthermore, home heating costs are unusually burdensome, there are frozen water pipes and fire dangers resulting from overheated stoves and insufficient wiring in residences, and it’s hard to find the “good” in this good old-fashioned winter.

With single-digit temperatures, it’s a good idea to leave a small stream of water running through any water pipes exposed to the cold. Be extra careful with fires and wires you may be using to ward off the cold. And try to remember the poet Shelley’s trumpet of a prophecy: “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

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In a related measure, Michigan’s Senate has passed a supplemental $100 million appropriation for emergency road repair due to this winter’s extremes.

The bill will likely be approved by the House of Representatives, but not without some changes. Whether the funds are dispersed directly to local road commissions, or controlled by Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) could become a bone of contention. In any case, the funds are badly needed, and the matter must be settled quickly.

These are emergency funds to be used for patching budgets and roads and are not intended for major road renovations.

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It’s tunnel time coming again to a Meijer store near … Grand Rapids.

Actually, it will be near the Meijer corporate offices in Walker. Thousands of Meijer employees traverse the area daily near the Walker Avenue and Three Mile Road intersection, and the company has decided to build a tunnel under the heavy traffic there. The pedestrian tunnel will be modeled after Greenville’s Fred Meijer trail structure under M-57.

Who knows how many injuries will be prevented and/or lives saved by these imaginative and constructive solutions to a very present danger?

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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