In the early 1900s, Michigan roads were planned, built and maintained at the township level of government. Residents recognized the inefficiency and lack of coordinated planning that occurred by handling roads at the township level.
The quality of the road surface, choice of routes, road widths and other road features varied widely, which did not make for good transportation for farm wagons or the new horseless carriage. Ever wondered why a "country road" made a small jog? It's a little remnant of Michigan history.
County road commissions were created expressly to ensure a county-wide seamless system of roads and bridges under local control. This system has worked well over the years, with county road agencies consulting with townships as well as cities and villages, and making the most efficient use of resources.
Over time, the Michigan Department of Transportation evolved to take care of interstate and intrastate highways. Today, MDOT cares for eight percent of Michigan roadways.
In recent years, a half-dozen counties consolidated their road commissions into county government operations for a variety of reasons. Consequently, the term "county road agencies" refers to both county road departments and county road commissions that have an independent board of directors.
What was once a disparate patchwork of farm-to-market routes jogging through the Michigan countryside has been developed into a modern road system connecting Michigan cities and villages. From seasonal byways to multi-late urban freeways, today’s county roads enable the efficient movement of people, goods and services across Michigan. Click here to learn more.