Behind the Interview

When I met up with MDOT director Paul Ajegba in his Lansing office last week for an interview, the first thing he asked was “How was your drive?”

“You mean the traffic? Or the condition of the roads?” I countered. He laughed.

And he might want to keep that sense of humor as he makes his way around the state, holding town hall meetings and trying to explain why MDOT needs a lot more money to “fix the damn roads“.

I wanted to meet and interview Paul – and share it with our One Detroit viewers – because I wanted to understand the scope of MDOT’s projects and how they pick them. I also wanted to know how building roads have changed over the years and how we stack up in funding compared to other states. There’s a huge issue with bridges in poor shape. And, I wanted to understand why it seems like crews are always back on projects just after they finish. (Yeah I-696, I’m looking at you)

Turns out that’s the number one complaint he hears. Also on the list? Coordinating road projects with local municipalities, so you’re not dodging orange barrels on every side road at the same time. Cities, counties and MDOT all divide that road funding for projects.

But one of the biggest problems Paul, and government in general, faces – is a lack of trust. Trust that taxpayer money will be spent in the best way possible. Trust that the work will be done right the first time. And trust that this gas tax the Governor is asking for, will make the difference.

Listen to what Paul has to say and let me know what you think. CM

Watch One Detroit every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on WTVS – Detroit Public Television.