Road officials criticize Governor Whitmer's new road plan

LANSING, MI. (WILX) -- Governor Gretchen Whitmer's road bond plan calls for selling $3.5 billion worth of bonds with the money going to Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Governor Whitmer said she had no choice but to take unilateral action because the legislature wouldn't come to the table with what she considered a "realistic plan."

She said a proposal to take money from schools was a non-starter.

"Anything that creates more problems than it solves, I don't think is a serious solution. You know taking some money out of a teacher pension system to fill some potholes, I don't consider a serious solution. Because it's not full, it's not dedicated and besides that, you're stealing from a different side of the two crises we're confronting as a state," Whitmer said.

Republican leaders say they don't like the bonding plan, but they're willing to negotiate for other road money.

The people in charge of the vast majority of Michigan's roads don't think the bonds are enough because the bonds will only pay for state roads and bridges; it won't touch county and city roads.

The County Road Association calls the governor's plan a quick fix that won't solve the long-term problem.

"Our trips always begin and end in our driveways, off of a local road. Our stores, churches, doctors, those are on the local network, so we don't just want to see the trunk line fixed," Denise Donohue, of the County Road Association said.

The governor's proposal will fund state trunk-line projects which makes up about 8% of Michigan roads.

If this proposal is passed, local and primary roads won't see a dime from the bonds.

"The condition of the local road system is way worse," Donohue said.

An East Lansing City Councilman wants to see action on a local level.

"An issue that could be solved through a state mechanism ends up having to fall on the local governments because the state is refusing to act," Aaron Stephens, East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem said.

The County Road Association suggested utilizing Act 51 which founded the Michigan Transportation Fund in the 1950s. The act distributes money to fund all Michigan roads, not just the major ones.

"Talking about it as if it is antiquated from the 1950s is not a factual statement. It does what it needs to do. It treats everyone fairly but it has been underfunded for a number of years and its time to come to that solution," Donohue said.

County Road Associations are responsible for 74% of the roads in Michigan in terms of miles.

They rely on the MDOT and local millages for most of their funding.

The money from the bonds will almost double the amount MDOT has to work with over the next five years.

The governor expects it to add around $200 million a year to the state's debt payments for 25 years.

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