State Transportation Update: Lawmakers Hit Brakes on Funding
As Legislature breaks for summer, support for road funding shrinks
All Aboard | July 16, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer
About the Author
- Pete Farmer: Nice to read about the big picture of music around here. I am sure the scene will only get bigger as TC grows. We plan on helping in our own little way with a small venue at our workshop. All procee...
- Pat Weber: The music tradition in Traverse City begins in its schools- the feeder system as it were. Traverse City Area Public Schools has had a long and rich music legacy in both vocal and instrumental instruct...
- Mario: Great article Hans Well written and an important message....
- Cory Johnston: Your reasons to vote NO are reason enough for me. This is 1960's mentality being used to fix 2015 and beyond problems. While mentioned, is there any guarantee that alternatives to one driver/one car w...
- Gerald Wilgus: Much of this is disingenuous rationalization in support of a "lesser of two evils" argument. This is how privatizing profit and socializing risk is maintained. We all agree that transportation inf...
|Across Michigan, highway expansions threaten public support for more funding.|
Gov. Rick Snyder spent the last two years urging the state Legislature to raise about $1.2 billion that he says is needed to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads. But so far, he’s been unable to mobilize enough legislative and public support to get it done.
To be sure, transportation funding is still a priority. Before legislators took off for their summer recess, they dedicated about $350 million of surplus general fund dollars to roads, and discussed several long-term funding bills. The Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M) coalition summarized a few of those bills here.
There’s little doubt among lawmakers that Michigan must come up with new ways to pay for maintaining its broad transportation network. What’s unclear, however, is whether or not the new money would be invested in repairing our crumbling roads, or on building new and wider highways.
Across the state, highway expansions threaten public support for more funding. For example, despite strong opposition, southeast Michigan transportation planners will move forward on a plan to spend $4 billion widening I-94 and I-75 through Detroit. In Grand Rapids, the Michigan Department of Transportation is spending $7 million in federal dollars widening US-131, even though the city’s master plan calls for taking the elevated highway down to a surface street.
And here in Grand Traverse County, road commissioners—despite major opposition and a clear need to repair most local roads—want to spend about $40 million on a new bridge that would span the Boardman River valley and bypass Traverse City.
So questions remain: Will the governor and lawmakers ever regain enough public support for new transportation funding? And, more importantly, is there enough accountability at the state and local level to ensure that new money is spent on fixing our crumbling roads rather than building new and wider highways?
We’ll see when the state House and Senate reconvene this fall. Stay tuned to Transportation for Michigan for updates.