Bill Would Authorize MDOT Tolls

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You expect to pay tolls if you're taking the family on a cross-country vacation. But what about if you're headed to a Tigers game, or to "Michigan's adventure"?

A bill that's part of the road funding debate at the State Capitol would allow MDOT to charge tolls on new highways or new lanes on highways.

At the Capitol Thursday, some found issue with House Bill 4925 -- sponsored by Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser), which would give MDOT the ability to set up a new toll road or new toll lane.

The National Motorists Association told the House Transportation Committee that it's a problem if lawmakers aren't involved, asking in testimony Thursday morning: "If for the first time in our history, toll roads and other tolled facilities not specifically approved case by case by the legislature will be a part of Michigan's road taxes package, shouldn't the public have a meaningful say in that change?"

NMA Life Member James C. Walker also asked: "If tolling and toll roads are not part of the overall road funding plan, then why is the bill needed at all?"

House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) had no intention of using tolls in his $500 million package of bills, his press secretary Ari Adler said. If people are concerned with the Lane's bill, it may be dropped in committee, he said.

"I think everything needs to be on the table," said Rep. Tom Cochran (D-Mason). "I'd like to see us come together, bring all the experts in and try to come up with a plan that's going to be sustainable."

Cochran thinks a toll could help make a dent in funding Michigan's dented roads.

"If we do have toll roads, I'd like to see that funding dedicated to maintain that road, to repair that road, the infrastructure on that road to maintain it," he said.

MDOT says on its website that tolls could hurt Michigan's economy. It says toll-free roads can spark business and help bring in some more tourism.

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