Detroit Free Press: Major road projects across Michigan could be shelved
Monday, December 8, 2008
Major road projects across Michigan could be shelved
Major road projects planned for the next five years could be delayed indefinitely beginning in 2010, as the state prepares for a future with big shortfalls in transportation funding.
The Michigan Department of Transportation has put together a revised 5-year plan for the 2009-13 construction seasons, highlighting projects that could be postponed or cut, including dozens on major roads and highway bridges in metro Detroit.
The plan details how declining gas tax revenues and rising costs for roadwork and materials will reduce the state's ability to keep its road system in good shape.
The projects at risk range from upgrades to a handful of I-94 overpasses in Detroit scheduled in 2010 to resurfacing M-59 between Opdyke and Crooks roads in Oakland County in 2011 and a stretch of I-94 east of 23 Mile in Macomb County in 2012.
MDOT has been warning about cutbacks as state revenues decline annually about 4%, or about $50 million a year.
The measures could put as many as 8,000 jobs at risk.
MDOT and the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, a construction industry group, frame the possible cuts as a return to the days of deteriorating roadways that led to public outcry in the 1990s and the last increase in the state's gas tax -- a 4-cent increase per gallon -- in 1997.
"We could be right back where we were by 2014," MDOT spokesman Bill Shreck said Thursday. "At current funding, that's where we're headed."
A state task force recently urged lame-duck lawmakers to take action on proposals including replacing the 19-cent-per-gallon state gas tax with a percentage tax that would fluctuate with gas prices and raising fees for vehicle registrations by 50%, which would add $1.5 billion a year in state transportation funding.
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