- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015

EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) - Scenic turnouts and roadside parks along Michigan roadways are in need of maintenance as other projects take funding priority, according to state officials.

The Michigan Department of Transportation’s Sleeping Bear Dunes Scenic Turnout has a sign, a parking lot and two picnic tables. It also has a tangle of bushes, weeds and trees that block views of Lake Michigan and the dunes, the Detroit Free Press reported (https://on.freep.com/1P27Gtt ).

“The bottom line is, these rustic facilities compete for scraps,” said Lynn Lynwood, roadside development program manager for MDOT. “There is no dedicated budget to maintain, let alone, improve them.”

MDOT said half of the scenic turnouts in Michigan need vegetation removed in the viewing area. The newspaper reports that 90 percent of the dozens of scenic turnouts and roadside parks need work on deteriorating toilet facilities, wells, signs and buildings. The rest areas and Welcome Centers also are managed by MDOT.

Scenic turnouts and roadside parks are scattered along secondary roads, mostly in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Some turnouts are majestic, including one on M-22 in Arcadia. It hugs the shoreline of Lake Michigan atop sharply descending dunes. A set of metal stairs takes visitors to a view of the coastline, elevating them above a rapidly growing tangle of trees and bushes.

MDOT spokesman Jeff Cranson said the state can’t afford to keep up appearances.

“Our lack of investment is showing up in our curb appeal, or lack thereof,” he said.

Scenic turnouts and roadside parks are funded as part of MDOT’s current $312 million annual regional maintenance budgets. There is no line-item allocation specifically for their upkeep and the Legislature is focused on dealing with broader road funding efforts.

“They compete with all other maintenance needs, including filling potholes and repairing damaged guardrails,” Lynwood said.


Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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