House Transportation Committee Hears From Construction Industry
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Posted by: Nancy Brown
Today the House Transportation Committee, under the leadership of Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor), held the final of three weeks of hearings to determine whether Michigan needs a gas tax increase to fix the state’s deteriorating road, bridge and transit systems. The testimony heard today resonated a consistent message that transportation funding must be increased to improve and maintain our crumbling system, and to spur our economy.
The committee heard from the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA), the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC), Ajax Paving Industries, Inc., and Slagter Construction Company.
“Legislators heard today from the owners of companies who are well aware of the fact that there is not enough available transportation funding in Michigan,” said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for MITA and co-chair of the Michigan Transportation Team. “The sky is falling, literally, on Michigan’s transportation system. Roads are deteriorating, bridges are raining cement, we don’t have enough funds to fix them, and the situation is only going to get worse.”
Construction companies in Michigan have fallen on hard economic times as the cost of construction has increased while transportation revenues continue to decline — forcing some companies to look to other states for work.
“There is a significant difference between funding in Michigan and other states that we work in,” said Mark Johnston, president, Ajax Paving Industries, Inc., headquartered in Troy. “To ensure a good economy, you need good infrastructure -- roads, bridges and water systems. Other states are ahead of us in how they fund their infrastructure."
Without investing in our infrastructure, the economy in Michigan will continue to decline, said Brian Slagter, president, Slagter Construction Company of Wayland. Investment in our infrastructure also serves an important economic purpose to keep quality workers in Michigan, he said.
“Investment in our transportation system will improve our economy,” said Ronald W. Brenke, P.E., executive director, ACEC of Michigan. “More people will return to work, we will retain our ‘best and brightest’ individuals, and the motoring public will spend less time stuck in traffic and have safer roads to travel on.”
Today was the last of three hearings, culminating a year-long statewide effort by the Michigan Transportation Team, which has included statewide road and bridge condition reports, public opinion surveys and focus groups, a website, postcards to legislators, a radio/billboard advertising campaign, and currently a pothole contest. The overall message of the transportation funding campaign, known as DriveMI , has been “Don’t Forget Our Roads.” The point of the campaign is to remind legislators that there is more work to be done besides the budget and Single Business Tax replacement during this legislative session.
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.