roads

Transportation
9:30 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Michigan's future transportation needs (and costs) will be under review this week

file photo
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A special task force starts work this week to try to come up with a plan to better spend state tax dollars to fix Michigan’s roads.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is spending about a billion dollars building and repairing the state’s roads this year.

But to keep pace with what’s needed to just maintain the state’s infrastructure, its estimated Michigan would need to spend $1.4 billion.

State Senator Roger Kahn wonders if that money is being spent efficiently enough.

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Transportation
3:36 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Fixing Michigan's roads

Road construction along I94 in Jackson County, Michigan (file photo)
(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Time is running out for Congress to pass a new federal transportation funding bill.

The last funding bill expired in 2009.   Congress has passed a series of extensions of the old law since then.  

A coalition of Michigan environmental groups and unions say the ongoing delay is hurting state roads.

Mark Schauer is the head of the BlueGreen Alliance.   The former Michigan congressman says the state’s roads are deteriorating, in part, because Congress can’t agree on a new six year federal transportation spending plan.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one that had to replace a tire as a result of hitting a huge pothole," says Schauer.

Michigan Congressmen Dave Camp and Fred Upton are on the special House-Senate conference committee working on the transportation bill. A spokeswoman for the committee says discussions continue with hopes of reaching an agreement before the deadline at the end of next month. 

Auto/Economy
1:01 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Michigan gasoline prices moving into historic territory

This Marathon gas station on Jolly Road, in Okemos is charging more than any other gas station in Michigan for a gallon of regular gasoline.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Motorists are spending $4 for a gallon of regular gas in Troy and Okemos. And other parts of Michigan may soon join them. Michigan’s gasoline prices shot up 12 cents on Monday.     

Dustin Coupal is a co-founder of GasBuddy.com. He says increasing world demand for oil is pushing Michigan’s gasoline pricescloser to record high territory.

“Over time, it’s a definite certainty…whether it happens this week ….or next month," says Coupal, "Unfortunately higher gas prices are coming.” According to GasBuddy.com, Michigan’s average regular gas price is around $3.80 a gallon. The state set a record last May, when the average price hit $4.26 a gallon.

Politics
5:44 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Michigan governor approves road commission bills

County commissions can vote to dissolve county road commissions under new legislation signed today.
Ingham County

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to dissolve and take over duties of county road commissions in Michigan.

The Republican governor signed the legislation Tuesday.

Appointed county road commissions could be dissolved by a majority vote of a county's board of commissioners. Voters would have the final decision on whether to dissolve road commissions in
counties where road commissioners are elected.

Supporters say the measures will save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs.

Some critics say a vote of the people should be required in all counties because each road commission was created by such a vote, not just those with elected commissioners.

Politics
1:56 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

Michigan Governor to sign bill that will be the end of the road for some county road commissions

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R)
(Official state portrait)

Legislation that will allow county boards of commissioners to take over duties of county road commissions is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Snyder is scheduled to sign the legislation Tuesday at the state Capitol.

The bills were approved by the Michigan Legislature earlier this month.

Supporters say the measures would save money by eliminating duplicative administrative costs.

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Politics
4:37 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Michigan counties could scrap their road commissions under new legislation

Under legislation passed today, County Commissions in Michigan can decided whether or not to keep their Road Commissions.
Ingham County

Legislation that would allow counties to scrap their road commissions is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder.

Once the governor signs the bills, it would be up to county commissions to decide whether to get rid of their road commissions, and take over their responsibilities.

The bills cleared the state House today along largely party-line votes.

State Representative Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) voted against the measures.

She says it would be too easy for county commissions to divert money currently used for plowing and repairs to other purposes.

“I have sincere concerns about what will happen if the county road commissions are absolved into the county board and what will happen to those road funds,” said Byrum. “Currently, they’re designated to be used on roads but, I just - I have some serious concerns.”

But State Representative Dale Zorn (R-Ida) says county commissions won’t abolish their road commissions unless it makes financial sense.

“Because that, I believe it will work in some counties. In some counties, it won’t be as advantageous for them to do,” explained Zorn. “It really depends on how much money is being paid in the cost of administrative services.”

Road commissioners say the legislation puts too much local politics into road management.

Politics
4:18 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Lawmakers working to replace Michigan's gas tax with a sales tax increase

Paying less at the pump, but more in the store. Michigan voters may decide whether to replace the state's gas tax with an increase in the sales tax this fall.
user orinzebest Flickr

Voters may soon decide whether Michigan should scrap the 19-cents-per-gallon tax on gas at the pump in favor of a sales tax increase of 1 percent.

The change would help generate more money for transportation funding.

A proposal to put the question to voters is gaining momentum with some legislative leaders.

That change would require a constitutional amendment and put the question to voters on the ballot.

Republican state Senator Howard Walker sponsored the measure. He said if taxpayers are asked to pay more to fix the state’s roads, they should have a voice.

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Politics
2:25 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Michigan drivers could soon pay more for gas and vehicle registration fees

Drivers in Michigan may soon pay nine cents more per gallon at the gas pump.

A package of bills that would change funding for the state’s aging bridges and roads has been rolled out at the state Capitol.

It would get rid of the fuel-tax at the pump in favor of a tax at the wholesale level. That would result in drivers paying a few cents more per gallon. 

Drivers might also have pay more to register their vehicles. The package of bills also includes a plan to increase vehicle registration fees by 67 percent.

That should generate about $500 million dollars for transportation.

State Representative Rick Olson (R-Saline) said generating money to maintain roads is similar to a driver changing the oil in a car.

"Why do you do that? Because you want to save your engine," said Olson. "Same thing with roads; unless we do some of this capital preventative maintenance on a timely basis, we’re going to have more and more roads fall into the ‘poor’ category when then it costs 6 to 8 times as much to repair."

There are no plans to turn any of the state’s major highways into toll roads. But Olson said the conversation could come up in the future.

"Oh, it’s a possibility, but I don’t hear anyone pushing that at this point. Toll roads, tolls are a relatively inefficient way to collect funds for roads," said Olson. "Does create jobs, but those are government jobs, so why not then create the net revenue the most efficient way we can."

The package of bills also includes a plan to create a regional transit authority in southeast Michigan. 

Governor Rick Snyder called on lawmakers to find about $1.5 billion in additional revenue to adequately fund transportation needs.

Commentary
10:53 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Fixing the roads

To say that Governor Rick Snyder isn’t popular these days with Democrats,  liberals and even some independent voters would probably be an understatement. Many were upset by his decisions to cut education spending in order to drastically lower business taxes. Others weren’t happy that the state is now taxing pensions.

And there was widespread unhappiness when Snyder signed a bill that prevents state and local governments from offering domestic partnership benefits to their employees. Polls indicate that some who voted for him fourteen months ago wouldn’t do so today.

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Politics
4:17 pm
Sat January 21, 2012

Roads and motorists' money at stake in Michigan

Flickr user fellowship of the rich

A package of bills soon to be introduced in the Michigan Legislature is expected to propose higher vehicle registration fees and tax changes to raise more money for road repairs. The bipartisan bills will have support from Republican Governor Rick Snyder. He says Michigan is under-investing in its roads to the tune of $1.4 billion a year.
    

Snyder says it would make more financial sense to start addressing the problem now. The repair bill will be even worse the longer Michigan waits to address the problem.
    

Politics
6:00 am
Thu December 29, 2011

New rules could be in store for lake access at road ends

Bernt_Rostad flickr

Some state lawmakers hope to settle a decades-old controversy over how people use public access points to inland lakes.

In some places, it’s an annual tradition for people to set up a neighborhood dock at a road end access point. But some lakefront property owners complain about people and boats crowding the road ends. Often, the arguments wind up in court.

“Our water resources need to be open and accessible to the people, but on the other hand, we have to ensure that the rights of waterfront owners are protected, too,” said Hugh McDiarmid of the Michigan Environmental Council.  “So I don’t think the legislation will end the dispute, but it might provide the framework to resolve disputes a little more easily.”        

A bill before the state Senate would make it a misdemeanor to install a dock or permanently tie a watercraft unless a local ordinance allows it. The law would allow fines of 500 dollars a day for violations.

“It’s always good to know what’s expected there and what you can and cannot do,” said Kent Wood of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “The more that you can clarify exactly what activities are allowed and what’s not allowed, that could go a long way in clearing up a lot of these issues.”     

Wood says his group wants to make sure any new law helps doesn’t make it harder for people to access lakes.

Politics
1:00 am
Tue December 27, 2011

Legislation expected in January to change how road repairs funded

Guitarfool5931 flickr

Legislation is expected to be introduced next month to change the way Michigan pays for road maintenance.

Governor Snyder has a two-part plan for road funding. The first part would switch to a gas tax based on the price of fuel, instead of the number of gallons sold. That’s important because gas tax revenues are slipping as people drive more fuel-efficient cars.

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Politics
2:07 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

$3.6 million in federal funds to fix Michigan road

According to a press release from the office of Michigan Senator Carl Levin, the federal Department of Transportation has granted $3.6 million to the St. Clair County Road Commission for repairs on a section of Smiths Creek Road. Work will take place on a 2.6 mile stretch of the road and will include replacement of a bridge spanning the Pine River.

From the press release:

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Offbeat
11:48 am
Tue November 29, 2011

Yes, that snow plow is moving slower

MDOT South Haven Garage Plow truck with right hand wing
(photo by Jason Roland) fleetgod-snowice.blogspot.com

Michigan is getting its first significant snowfall of the year this evening. If you live in southwest Michigan, you may notice the snowplow in front of you is moving slower than you’re used to.  

When a snow plow is dumping salt on icy roads, state Transportation officials refer to it as "Bounce & Scatter".   

As the salt hits the road, faster truck speeds mean more salt tends to bounce and scatter, much of it landing off the road. 

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa says to reduce the scatter salt trucks in nine southwest counties will slow from 35 to 25 miles per hour this winter. The hope is slower speed will save money by using less salt.  

But Schirripa admits the slower speeds could put the trucks at greater risk of being rear-ended by inattentive motorists.   

“If we find out after a season, or a few weeks of it, the crash rate is simply too high, that safety is too much of a factor, the (pilot) program may in fact be dropped," says Schirripa.  

If the slower salt truck pilot program is successful, it may eventually expand to the rest of the state.

Politics
5:09 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Political Roundup: Discussing Snyder's transportation and infrastructure plan

Governor Rick Snyder speaking to a crowd at Southfield's Lawrence Technological University.
Screen shot

Governor Rick Snyder gave an address on infrastructure today at Southfield's Lawrence Technological University. His plan focuses on improving Internet access, roads, and sewer systems.

Here to take a look at what was mentioned and what was left out are Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

 

 

Transportation
2:50 pm
Sun October 9, 2011

16-mile bike lane project connects neighborhoods

A bike lane in the "Big Apple."
user K_Gradinger Flickr

A series of bicycle lanes stretching 16 miles and connecting three neighborhoods in southwest Detroit has been completed. The Greenlink is part of the city's urban master plan for non-motorized transportation and allows bike riders safe access to the three historic neighborhoods.
    

A $500,000 Michigan Department of Transportation grant funded 80 percent of the project. Other grants and fundraisers paid for the other 20 percent.
    

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transportation
3:05 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Lawmakers expect changes to how Michigan pays to fix roads

A 2-mile section of I-196 was widened and reconstructed in the middle of downtown Grand Rapids in 2010. The project cost $40 million and closed the freeway for seven months.
Ifmuth Creative Commons

A new study shows the conditions of Michigan’s roads will continue to decline unless the state can come up with a lot more money to maintain them. More than a third of Michigan’s roads are in poor condition.

The study was released this week by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers. It shows the state needs $1.4 billion more each year for at least 85-percent of roadways to be in good or fair condition.

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Politics
10:42 am
Mon September 19, 2011

Michigan roads need billions more to remain "useable"

A bipartisan legislative workgroup has determined that keeping Michigan's roads useable will require an additional $1.4 billion a year.

In 10 years, that number grows to an estimated $2.6 billion.

Business and infrastructure groups have been pressuring the Michigan Legislature for years without success to come up with a way to raise more money for fixing and maintaining roads and bridges.

Representative Rick Olson says Michigan needs to more than double what it spends to maintain streets and highways:

“Well I think the bottom line of this study is, unless we spend this kind of money we’re either going to need to reconcile ourselves to poorer roads, or we’re going to need to be willing to pay even more in the future.”

 Olson says raising the gas tax would not go far enough in raising revenue to pay for roads. He says a larger and more permanent solution will need to be found to generate revenue. Olson and his Democratic counterpart have submitted their report to state House leadership.

 

Transportation
1:10 pm
Sat September 17, 2011

State budget woes mean fewer federal funds to help fix MI's roads

Orange barrels along I94 in Jackson County
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Road work in Michigan has become more quick fixes than long-term repairs as the state balances the scope of construction projects with the dwindling funds necessary to carry them out. A five-year report shows transportation officials expect a drop of more than $700 million annually from what's being spent now in highway program funds beginning October 1st and stretching into the 2015 fiscal year.

The report points to a drop in state revenue and predictions that Michigan will not be able to put up enough matching money to secure all available federal aid for transportation projects.

Michigan's Five-Year Transportation Program invests just over $6 billion into highway and other programs. But upward of $160 million more in state revenue is needed each fiscal year to match all available federal aid.

Economy
11:51 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend

A view of Lake Michigan from near Frankfort, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

AAA Michigan predicts state highways will be busy on Memorial Day.     The automobile club’s survey shows one point one million Michiganders plan to travel during the 5 day holiday period, 91% by car.

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