FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Christina Strong
Remembering the first “Road Bee Day” in Michigan
Lansing, MI – Ever thought you’d have to rake your own sand and clay or haul your own gravel to see improvements in a Michigan road? You can be thankful Michigan no longer observes a statewide “Road Bee Day,” as it first did on June 9, 103 years ago!
This month, the County Road Association (CRA) of Michigan is remembering the 1913 Road Bee Day, when Michigan residents were encouraged to get out and help improve their local roads.
First observed by the Huron Road Shore Association, people chose June 9 to drain water from roadways that made streets muddy and impassable; remove logs, and cut down roots and stumps; smooth dirt and clay roads; stabilize sand; and haul gravel to patch uneven or unfinished roads, all as a commitment to the preservation and improvement of Michigan’s roads.
The first Road Bee Day in 1913 was a huge success, with over 200 miles of roads improved, according to news reports of the day. What was intended to be a one day celebration and show of pride for Michigan’s developing transportation system turned into a full week of repairs and improvements on the emerging road system.
“Community interest in public work has lagged somewhat,” said a biennial report from the Michigan State Highway Department in 1914. “This interest was renewed, and different [groups] tried to make their section [of road] look better than their neighbors,” thanks to the community and competitive aspects of Road Bee Day.
In 1914, then-Governor Woodbridge Nathan Ferris proclaimed early June to include a statewide Road Bee Day where all across the state farmers and other rural Michigan residents would get out and put in extra hours to improving the local roads system.
“We are encouraging Michigan residents to help us remember Road Bee Day this June, recognizing how far Michigan’s county road system has come and showing appreciation for the dedication county road agencies have shown to improving roads,” said CRA director, Denise Donohue.
Today, 73 percent of Michigan roads are tended by the professional engineers, foremen, road workers and other staff at local county road commissions or departments. That’s a big difference from the Road Bee Days of over 100 years ago.
“Due to safety and liability concerns, and the complex nature of engineering in modern roads, we do not encourage citizens to head out and fix their own roads these days,” said Donohue. “Showing your appreciation for county road agencies will more than suffice.”
The 83 members of the County Road Association represent the unified, credible and effective voice for a safe and efficient local road system in Michigan, collectively managing more than 73 percent of all roads in the state– more than 90,000 miles and 5,700 bridges— the fourth-largest county road system in the nation.