Michigan Road Group Pushes For More Money

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Frustrated with inaction from Michigan lawmakers, a coalition that wants the state to spend more money on road repairs is trying a new lobbying approach.
The Michigan Transportation Team said Wednesday it recently sent the state's 148 House and Senate members and those running for office in November maps of their own districts highlighting major roads that are in poor condition. The group said lack of action to boost repairs over the past two years will make the state's major roads $1.1 billion more expensive to repair than it would have cost otherwise.
Roads often cost more to fix the longer they're allowed to deteriorate.
"Legislators must understand that ignoring the poor condition of Michigan roads will not make the problem go away," County Road Association of Michigan director John Niemela said in a statement.
The Michigan Transportation Team includes business groups, road builders, transportation agencies and motorists. The group is trying to raise awareness about road conditions and persuade lawmakers to pass measures that would raise more money for road repairs.
Proposals that would boost road funding, including higher taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, have stalled in the Legislature. All 148 seats in the Legislature are up for grabs in the November election and lawmakers have avoided talk of tax increases during an election year.
Some lawmakers say the fuel tax or user fee increases could come up in the Legislature's "lame duck" session after the November election. Lawmakers will have about two months to pass laws before the current legislative session ends and a new Legislature takes over in January.
"I keep hearing talk that we might be able to take this up in the 'lame duck' session, and I'm looking forward to pursuing that," said state Rep. Pam Byrnes, a Democrat from Washtenaw County's Lyndon Township and a sponsor of legislation that would raise fuel taxes enough for Michigan to keep more federal matching money for roads.
State officials are planning to delay hundreds of road projects over the next five years if Michigan doesn't come up with a plan to raise enough money to keep its federal match.
Michigan stands to go from spending roughly $1.4 billion on roads this year with the help of federal stimulus money to around $600 million three out of the next four years if the state fails to raise enough of its own money to qualify for more federal funds.
Among the bills stalled in the Legislature are proposals that would raise the state's 19-cent per gallon gas tax to 23 cents this year and to 27 cents in 2013. Michigan's 15-cent per gallon diesel tax would increase to 21 cents this year and 27 cents in 2013.

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  • by Anonymous on Aug 30, 2010 at 04:33 AM
    I read this article as another story concerning the democrats wanting to raise taxes. We need to be fiscally responsible in how we spend money and look at other areas of the government to cut in order to do these new projects.
  • by Ricardo Location: Lansing on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:15 PM
    This is a scam. Just look at the stupuid "mini barriers" that are being put up along the highways. They impede police, Fire departments, wreckers etc., from taking the shortest distance to an accident. But I am sure someone is getting paid off to have these farces installed. Why not use available funds to actually build and/or repair the roads? Thank you Ricardo
  • by Anonymous on Aug 26, 2010 at 09:59 AM
    I drive all over the U.S. in the summer, and Michigan hands down has the worst road in the country. Even Ill. has better roads than we do. We have gone from having the best road system to the worst, and did it in less than 10 years. Congradulations to the Lawmakers and MDOT.
  • by Timothy Location: Lansing on Aug 25, 2010 at 06:13 PM
    20 years ago 99% of the Interstate system was finished. The Federal Hwy Adm. is no longer needed. We are a 60% state. In other words we send $100 to the Feds and we get 60% back. Why can't we opt out of the FHA and keep the Fed. gas tax in Michigan. I don't care if Nevada, Ohio or any other state has a new road. We need to keep that 19 cents per gallon here.
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