roads

Weekly Political Roundup
3:35 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Drivers beware, warns MDOT director

Prepare for slick roads around the state this morning
net_efekt Flickr

Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, says the harsh winter will make the pothole situation in Michigan this spring the worst we’ve seen in our lifetime. He testified this week before the state House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

Joining us to talk roads are Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Politics & Government
7:30 am
Thu February 13, 2014

In this morning's headlines: Health care, juveniles, roads

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

More Michiganders signing up for health care than expected

"About 112,000 Michigan residents chose a private insurance plan under the federal health care law through January, outpacing what was projected in a government memo last summer," the Associated Press reports.

Juvenile lifer sentencing rules head to the governor's desk

"Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to new sentencing rules after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down mandatory life imprisonment for juveniles. The bills now head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. The legislation applies to future cases and not retroactively to more than 350 Michigan inmates under 18 when they committed crimes," the Associated Press reports.

Lowest amount of money spent on roads in the U.S.: Michigan

"Michigan spends less money per capita on our roads and bridges than any other state in the nation. We spent just $154 dollars per person, according to the 2010 Census," Michigan Radio reports.

Politics & Government
8:56 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Bernero: The state of the city of Lansing is strong. The state of the city's roads not so good.

“Right now, the state of Michigan has a $1 billion surplus. I have an idea. Let’s put people back to work by investing some of that money in our crumbling roads," says Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero used his State of the City speech Thursday to make a pitch for state funding to repair local roads.

Mayor Virg Bernero says the city of Lansing plans to spend three million dollars this year to repair pot hole covered roads in the capitol city. 

But the mayor says the city would have to spend five times that much each year for a decade to fix all of Lansing’s road problems.

In his speech, Bernero called on state lawmakers to use part of the state’s billion dollar budget surplus to help repair local roads across Michigan.

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Politics & Government
9:29 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

MDOT director: 'How many people should die' before roads are fixed?

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan’s top transportation official is blasting state lawmakers for all but giving up on passing a long-term road funding fix this year.

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the Legislature to boost funding for roads and infrastructure by more than $1 billion a year. But lawmakers say Michigan voters are not ready to support raising taxes or fees to pay for it. Some say the roads may have to get worse before they can get better.

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Opinion
9:17 am
Wed January 15, 2014

The Legislature needs to focus more on Michigan citizens

Lessenberry commentary for 1/15/14

I have to wonder sometimes how our elected leaders in the Legislature sleep. They spend vast amounts of money getting elected to jobs, the whole purpose of which is to serve the citizens. Then they don’t do that –selling out to special interests, or pandering shamelessly to voters – so they can cling to power for another couple years.

If they were in Congress, I still wouldn’t approve, though it would be easier to understand. Congressmen, after all, can stay in office until they are legally dead, accumulating power and seniority. But if you are a member of the Michigan House of Representatives, you can serve six years maximum, for life. State senators can serve a maximum of eight years.

Now – if you are going to be gone anyway soon, why not do the right thing while you are there? Sadly, that isn’t the way most legislators seem to think. I’ll give you one huge example:

Forget anything morally controversial, like abortion insurance or wolf hunting. Forget anything where there is a legitimate public policy debate, like what to do about failing schools. Instead, let’s talk about the most obvious example: Our roads.

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Transportation
1:20 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Grand Rapids considers extending income tax hike to pay for road improvements

WFIU Public Radio Creative Commons

Voters in Grand Rapids could get a chance to vote on an income tax extension this year. The city wants to extend a temporary income tax hike to maintain roads and sidewalks.

Grand Rapids voters approved the temporary income tax hike in 2010. It’s paid for a number of projects that will lower the overall cost of running city government. That increase will expire in 2015.

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Weekly Political Roundup
4:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

What might the Michigan Legislature do in 2014?

Graham Davis flickr

It’s Thursday, the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

The legislature has wrapped up session for the year. And, after the holidays we’re entering an election year. Let's find out, besides the gubernatorial election, what other major elections should we be watching next year, and what might the legislature accomplish in 2014?

Politics & Government
9:02 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Lessenberry talks child well-being, renewable energy in Michigan and looks ahead to 2014 politics

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the state of child well-being in Michigan, and look ahead to Governor Rick Snyder's energy plan he'll announce Thursday. They also take a look at legislation likely to be taken up in early 2014.

Week in Michigan politics interview

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Politics & Government
7:04 am
Mon December 16, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Roads funding, blight team in Detroit, manufacturing announcement

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Roads will be a priority in 2014, lawmakers say

"State legislative leaders say boosting funding for roads will top their priority list in 2014. Governor Rick Snyder has been urging lawmakers to increase road and infrastructure spending by more than a billion dollars," Jake Neher reports.

Teams start counting vacant buildings to help fight blight in Detroit

"A large-scale effort to count Detroit’s blighted and vacant buildings starts in earnest today. Seventy five teams of surveyors will assess and map more than 350,000 parcels of land across the city," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Manufacturing announcement expected in Flint

"Top officials with General Motors, the UAW and Michigan government will be in Flint today for what’s being called a “significant manufacturing” announcement. GM spokesmen are not saying what the announcement at the Flint Assembly Plant will be," Steve Carmody reports.

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Opinion
11:02 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Remember the roads?

Earlier this week I had a meeting in Ann Arbor and then went to Detroit. When I swung off the freeway onto a surface street I hit a pothole I couldn’t see so hard I was convinced I’d lose a tire.

I was lucky. Everything seems fine. But I drive a lot, and have lost two tires in similar episodes in recent years.

We need to fix our roads. Figuring out how to do so is the responsibility of our lawmakers. But they won’t do it. Which means  we are all going to pay more and more to fix damage to our cars. 

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Politics & Government
11:25 am
Sat October 19, 2013

Medicaid expansion delay may mean less money for Michigan roads

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Delaying Medicaid expansion in Michigan is having another side-effect besides forcing low-income adults to wait three months longer for health insurance under the federal health overhaul.

It also means there could be $73 million less for deteriorating roads at a time lawmakers are funneling more money there in part to avoid raising gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees.

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Politics & Government
3:20 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Pot for potholes? GOP state lawmaker wants legal marijuana to pay for roads

Pot-holes?
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a new idea floating around the state Capitol about how to boost funding for roads. Supporters call the plan “pot for potholes.”

Lawmakers like state Rep. Mike Callton (R-Nashville) would like to see the state legalize and tax marijuana and use that money to pay for road repairs.

“You can tax the heck out of marijuana,” Callton says, “put it into a separate fund for Michigan roads - because it doesn’t seem like that money is going to come from anywhere else at this point in time - and it’s a cute name, ‘pot for potholes.’”

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Transportation
2:39 pm
Sun September 15, 2013

Michigan has 28 bridges in key rehab category

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan has at least 28 bridges that are classified as needing close observation and future upgrades.

The Associated Press analyzed data on bridges nationwide. At least 28 in Michigan are considered "structurally deficient" and "fracture critical," key terms bridge inspectors use.

Officials say that doesn't mean the bridges are unsafe for travel. If so, they'd be closed.

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat September 7, 2013

The week in review: Medicaid expansion and Bentiviolio's primary challenger

Week in review interview

This week in review, Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss the Medicaid expansion and Kerry Bentivolio's primary challenger.

Politics & Government
6:59 am
Thu September 5, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Medicaid and road funding, Detroit housing project demolition, E. coli

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Governor Snyder says some Medicaid funding could go toward roads

"Governor Rick Snyder says extending Medicaid to thousands of working poor people will save Michigan taxpayers money. He wants to use part of the money to pay for the program in future years when the federal government’s share declines slightly. But he says there should be more than enough to also use some of the money for other things – such as roads and transportation," Rick Pluta reports.

Housing project once home to Diana Ross and Joe Louis torn down in Detroit

"Portions of Detroit’s historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects met the wrecking ball Wednesday. The massive complex where Diana Ross and Joe Louis grew up had become a magnet for blight and crime," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Rockfors residents urged to boil water to avoid E. coli

"Tests have revealed E. coli in the water system that serves Rockford, a city north of Grand Rapids. Health officials advised residents to use bottled water Wednesday or boil tap water before using it for drinking, brushing teeth or preparing food," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
7:30 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Governor Snyder says some Medicaid savings could go to roads

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) MI (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says extending Medicaid to more working poor people will save the state a lot of money – maybe $130 million next year. That begs the question of what to do with the budget windfall.

   The Snyder administration says the Medicaid expansion to 320,000 working poor people will help reduce uncompensated hospital care and other things that drive up the cost of health care. But the state should also see direct savings by shifting costs like prisoner mental health services to the Medicaid program.

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Politics & Government
4:24 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Rough road ahead for transportion funding

Wikimedia Commons

Each week we take a look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, columnist for MLIVE.com.

Governor Snyder has been calling for increased funding for Michigan roads to the tune of $1.2 billion a year. This is one of the items he has not gotten a lot of traction on so far from lawmakers on either side of the political aisle.

According to Sikkema, the last time Michigan increased fees and a tax for transportation funding was back in 1997.

"The reason we keep going back to this sales tax issue is because Michigan is relatively unique. It has a sales tax on top of its state and federal gas tax and that sales tax doesn't go to roads it goes to schools and revenue sharing. There are only about three or four states in the country where all the taxes at the pump don't go to roads. Michigan is one of them," he said.

Are better roads, better for business?

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Transportation
6:18 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

1,354 Michigan bridges found "unsafe"

Grosse Ile Toll Bridge
Credit wikimedia.org

More than 12% of Michigan bridges have been deemed "structurally unsafe"  by the group Transportation for America.

Michigan has about 11,000 bridges. The group says 1,354 of those could be dangerous.

So, if more than 1 out of 10 bridges in Michigan is  "unsafe," how bad are they really?

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Transportation
4:48 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Off-road vehicles could ride on way more road shoulders if Snyder signs bill

Gary Chancey Creative Commons

4x4s and other off-road vehicles could be allowed on many more Michigan roads, under a bill that’s headed to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk.

Currently, ORVs can drive on the shoulders in the Upper Peninsula and eight counties in the Lower Peninsula.

John Chad is director of Happi-Trails ATV Club in Grayling. He says the changes would be great for local riders and increase tourism.

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Politics & Government
10:06 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Commentary: Roads to ruin

Lessenberry commentary for 4/26/13

If you had the idea that our elected representatives in the legislature were mature, rational adults, yesterday might have cured you of the idea.  As many of us know, the state’s roads are falling apart.

Yesterday, the Transportation Asset Management Council said that less than 1/5 of Michigan Roads eligible for federal highway funding are in good shape. A third are in poor condition. The rest are in fair condition, sliding towards poor.

Roads, by the way, don’t heal themselves, especially when heavy trucks keep driving on them. Local roads, which are not eligible for federal assistance, are in far worse shape, with slightly over half in poor condition.

Even the expressways aren’t great. Sixty percent are in fair condition, 16 percent poor. Those roads, however, are most likely to be improved. The rest of the system is what we need to worry about, unless you never plan on going anywhere, or you drive a military surplus tank.

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