Michigan report: transportation spending needs to double

| 7/30/2008

Michigan needs to spend more money to make roads and bridges throughout the state more viable, according to a report from a special advisory committee.

The 19-member committee, which was appointed by the governor, released the report on how to pay for transportation projects without increasing the state’s fuel tax rates. The group recommended funding alternatives for the transportation system to the governor’s Transportation Funding Task Force, The Associated Press reported.

The Citizens Advisory Committee report estimates $6.1 billion annually is needed for basic improvements to roads and bridges in the state. The amount is nearly twice what current spending allots.

The report says that roads in the state are worse than those in most other states. Michigan roads also will become increasingly congested, unplowed, dangerous and pothole-riddled unless more money is invested.

Failure to address the problems is resulting in a declined quality of life and reduced economic competitiveness, the report stated.

It is estimated that in two years, the state and local governments will lose an average of $950 million a year for roads. The report cites an inability to afford upfront spending required to obtain matching federal funds.

Reasons given for the slide include higher fuel costs and soaring road construction expenses. Smaller fuel purchases that result in less tax revenue for the state also is a contributing factor.

In addition, the advisory committee reported money is needed because freight coming into Michigan is expected to nearly double by 2035.

The Transportation Funding Task Force will use the report to help with recommendations for alternative ways to pay for the state’s transportation system. Its final report is due in April 2009.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor