It’s time to prioritize Michigan roads, transportation chair says

Capital News Service
LANSING — In light of a recent study detailing Michigan’s road needs, some legislators say they’re hoping to see roads become a bigger priority for the state. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, said transportation is his main focus, and roads are a major issue. “The two things that my constituents bring up the most are insurance and roads,” Cole said. A recent study by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group, concluded that Michigan’s roads require more than the increased funding they’re getting, or else they may deteriorate further. “As we saw the economy start to heal itself, what we’ve seen is significant travel growth in Michigan,” said Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research for TRIP.

How other states fund roads could fix Michigan potholes

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan and nearby states might share road funding concerns, but the Mitten might not have access to the same solutions. Michigan’s road funding is unique because of its comparatively low gas and diesel taxes, lower taxes for diesel than gas and an unusual funding formula that sends a disproportionate amount of money to rural areas, said Kenneth Boyer, a Michigan State University professor of economics. Indiana has dealt with cost issues by privatizing a toll road and increasing fuel tax revenue, said Indiana Department of Transportation media relations director Will Wingfield. That can’t work here, Boyer said. Michigan has no tolls, only bridges.

Good news, pothole dodgers: orange cones coming soon

Capital News Service
LANSING — With the backing of a $3.7 billion proposal for road and bridge maintenance from Gov. Rick Snyder, the Department of Transportation (MDOT) is set to move forward on 14 highway construction projects in Northern Michigan this year. The projects are laid out in the department’s five-year plan, which includes 50 road and 12 bridge renovation projects between 2013 and 2017 in the North and Superior regions. James Lake, communications specialist for MDOT’s Superior Region, said most these projects were in the works years before they began surfacing in five-year plans, meaning even without all of the money requested by Snyder, this year’s projects will be able to move forward. The renovations are set to begin with the resurfacing of a 6.3-mile stretch of M-37 in Wexford County between M-115 and 4 Road, which could start in March, depending on weather, said Bob Felt, communications specialist for MDOT’s North Region. The other four Lower Peninsula projects are set to start during early in the summer and include two minor alterations to US-31 in Emmet County, restoration of a 5.5-mile stretch of M-88 in Antrim County and 1.5 miles of rehabilitation to US-31 near Traverse City.