Michigan bills would OK HOV lanes, UCR

| 11/26/2008

Multiple measures of interest to truckers in Michigan are nearing passage in the statehouse. They address the Unified Carrier Registration program and high-occupancy vehicle lanes in the state.

A bill in the House Transportation Committee would authorize the state to implement and administer the Unified Carrier Registration Act. It is a federal act that replaced the Single State Registration System.

UCR includes a fee structure that switches from the old per-truck basis to a per-carrier basis that is the same for all member states. Truckers will no longer have to pick and choose states, as they do with the SSRS. One fee will cover all states.

Sponsored by Sen. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, the measure – SB1451 – received unanimous consent in the Senate this past summer.

According to a fiscal impact statement on the bill, failure to adopt the new fee structure could cost the state its share of interstate motor carrier fees, which is about $7.5 million annually.

The House and Senate approved legislation that would authorize Michigan to have high-occupancy vehicle lanes, or HOV lanes. Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to endorse the new policy, which would take effect immediately.

One HOV lane already exists as a pilot project along a five-mile stretch of Michigan Avenue in Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge. However, state law makes no provision for HOV lanes, so law enforcement cannot ticket violators.

The trial run will occur while Michigan Avenue serves as an alternate route during the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project that’s rebuilding Interstates 75 and 96 and their connections to the border crossing with Canada.

While there are no specific plans for more HOV lanes, transportation officials plan to look at whether it would make sense to add them during highway improvement projects, The Associated Press reported.

Opponents say that HOV lanes are underused and take up valuable road space from vehicles that cannot carpool. Others argue that the public has already paid for the roads.

Supporters say that car-poolers and bus riders also pay taxes. In addition, use of the lanes cuts down on pollution.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor