Michigan House approves Mackinac Bridge package

| Friday, July 11, 2003

The Michigan House has approved a set of bills that would roll back recent increases in Mackinac Bridge tolls and freeze fares until 2006-2007, Lansing’s WILX TV reported.

The legislation, headed by state Sen. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, would dedicate $5.25 million in state funds to the Mackinac Bridge Authority to pay for bridge repairs and offset toll increases that went into effect this spring. It also calls for public hearings to reduce toll rates.

“In the coming years, the Mighty Mac will need some repairs requiring substantial funding, which should not come at the expense of area residents, tourists or businesses,” Allen said in a recent statement. “This legislation ensures that critical infrastructure repairs are funded, while ensuring that toll fees remain low.”

The House passed four of the five bills in the package July 2 with mostly minor changes to the previously approved Senate versions. The remaining measure is expected to be considered in the coming weeks.

The lead bill – SB468 – in the package would relieve the bridge authority of its obligation to repay the state money advanced for bonds. Other legislation in the package would set aside at least $5.25 million for repairs and prohibit tolls for emergency vehicles.

Fares for big rigs jumped from $2 per axle to $3 per axle on May 1. Fees for most other vehicles rose from $1.50 to $2.50. The commuter rate went from $1.25 to $1.50.

The bills are awaiting final approval from the Senate, and then will be forwarded to the governor.

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