The Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT’s) proposed five year transportation plan would cut 246 road projects and 7,888 jobs by 2011, because of plummeting gas tax revenues and a road funding system in the midst of collapse.
The State Transportation Commission recently approved the proposed plan that would make across the board program cuts in areas that include: highway, pavement, bridge, capacity improvements, and safety because, according to the report’s theme, “our needs are far exceeding our financial resources.”
“State policymakers have delayed action on fixing our road funding formula,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations at the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA). “They’ve waited too long to address the problem and now legislators are seeing road projects in their own communities being cut due to their own inaction.”
MDOT’s draft 2009-2013 plan calls Michigan’s transportation challenges a “crisis” and includes a list of 246 local projects across the state that would be delayed or cancelled if additional transportation funding is not identified. A project delay list is attached, along with the entire five year plan. MDOT is asking the public to e-mail comments on the plan to MDOT-Five-Year-Program@michigan.govbefore Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008.
Highlights of the plan include: • The plan created 23,034 jobs in 2007 but by 2011 it would create only 15,146, a loss of 7,888 jobs in four years. • Approximately 185 bridges will not receive needed repairs. • Five of the six projects proposed for capacity improvement would be impacted or delayed. • There will be fewer projects to address fatalities and severe injuries on roadways, and the proposal includes cuts to MDOT’s Safe Routes to School Program. • State revenues for local transit, intercity bus revenues, and passenger rail revenues will equal less than 50 percent of annual need.
“These cuts show the consequences Michigan is now facing due to inaction by state policymakers during the past several years,” Nystrom said. “The Legislature has a transportation rescue plan before it and policymakers must act before the end of this legislative session.”
The MITA investment plan repeals the state’s per gallon gas and diesel taxes and replaces it with an 18 percent tax on fuel wholesalers. This change would offset dramatically declining transportation revenues caused by higher gas prices, increasing fuel efficiency and alternative fuel vehicles, all of which have helped make the current gas tax obsolete.
The plan would invest nearly $1.5 billion above current levels and is a first step towards bringing Michigan’s transportation system up to the “good” level as described in the Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force (TF2) report, and sustain 46,000 Michigan jobs, according to estimates from MDOT. The average Michigan driver will pay an additional $12 per month in various fees if the plan is approved by the Legislature. According to the TF2 report, a $1.5 billion investment plan could save the average driver $250 per year in improved safety, $300 per year in vehicle maintenance costs and $450 per year in personal income, or roughly $1,000 a year in total savings.