Funding to build and maintain the state’s roads and bridges will decline by 18 percent, one of the largest cuts in the state’s fiscal 2008 budget.
The state road and bridge program for fiscal year 2008, which was approved this week by lawmakers, is $1.32 billion. This is a $300 million cut from the current fiscal year program.
“This budget cut is going to hit the average Michigan citizen in the pocketbook,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA). “Currently each year driving on crumbling and congested roads and bridges costs Michigan motorists on average $318 annually. As necessary road and bridge repairs are postponed, those costs to motorists will escalate.”
Budget cuts mean the state has to delay repairs that may extend the life of roads and bridges in Michigan. The infrastructure may subsequently need to be replaced entirely – which is more costly.
In addition, as drivers experience more potholes, greater congestion and less snow plowing due to a lack of funding, traffic accidents will increase. Almost 400 Michigan motorists lose their lives needlessly every year due to accidents related to poor roads and bridges, according to the American Highway Users Alliance.
“This is a typical case of pay me now or pay me much more later,” Nystrom said. “The Legislature just adopted a state budget which includes $1.5 billion in new tax revenues without addressing the desperate needs of our transportation network.”
It is estimated that the state has a $700 million annual shortfall in maintaining the MDOT-managed system and at least $2 billion in additional needs at the local level.
MITA represents a broad spectrum of underground and highway construction companies and suppliers that help build a better Michigan infrastructure from the bottom up. They have been a leading voice for securing adequate transportation funding at the federal and state levels.