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Michigan Legislature Approves Stimulus Funds for Roads; Long-term Road Conditions Still Bleak

Friday, March 27, 2009   (0 Comments)
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Senate passage today of HB 4582 means Michigan will get its $873 million share of federal economic stimulus funds for transportation, but it won’t be enough to cover Michigan’s long-term road funding needs.

“Michigan residents should applaud the legislature for their quick action, which will put people back to work and help fix some of our worst roads, but there is still much more work to be done,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of the Michigan Transportation Team (MTT). “This stimulus is a Band-Aid, a one-time influx of cash. It was never intended, nor should it be considered, a long-term solution for Michigan’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.

“The general public has been led to believe that the federal stimulus package would create jobs by investing in our nation’s infrastructure. What most people don’t know is that only three percent of the federal stimulus was devoted to our roads and bridges.”

The federal stimulus money will fund only individual shovel-ready projects. No money will be available for pothole repairs and routine maintenance of Michigan’s roads and bridges. Many communities will see no new dollars at all, leaving Michigan motorists to just “grin and bear it” while navigating pothole-riddled roads.

“Even if the state received this new money each and every year, it still would not be nearly enough to fund our actual needs,” Nystrom said. It is less than a third of the funding increase recommended by the bipartisan Transportation Funding Task Force, an additional $3 billion per year just to maintain existing pavement conditions.

The Michigan Department of Transportation estimates that there will be a steady decline in pavement conditions in Michigan even after the state spends the federal stimulus dollars.

Ironically, the 2010 state transportation budget, which is also winding its way through the legislature, actually cuts state dollars for road repair, $344 million less than the current year's budget.

Failure to address transportation needs goes beyond road conditions, Nystrom said. Half of the states on Overdrive Magazine’s recently released top 10 list of bad roads, including Michigan, have unemployment rates above the national average of 8.1 percent. Nystrom said this fact highlights the importance of good infrastructure in a state’s economic vitality.

MTT is a broad-based, bi-partisan partnership of business, labor, local government, associations and citizens linked with the common goal of improving Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. The DriveMI campaign is committed to promoting the development and maintenance of a safe, convenient and efficient transportation network that serves the public, private and economic development needs of Michigan. For more information, visit www.drivemi.org.

Click here for a pdf of the MDOT Pavement Conditions chart.

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