WLNS TV 6 Lansing: Funding for road construction drying up
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
When you pick up the pump at the gas station, you're not only filling up your car, but you're pumping money into a federal fund that pays for better roads. Now drivers are buying less gas and the government says it's 8-billion dollars short. Time to come up with a way to fund local road projects is running out. For the eighth month in a row, the Michigan Department of Transportation says fewer drivers are hitting the roads, which could soon lead construction projects on a one-way road to a dead end.
Michael Nystrom, Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Assoc.: "It could be devastating in the next couple of years."
The tax you pay on gas fuels the federal fund that pays for road projects across the state.
Michael Nystrom: "Oftentimes it seems as though things need to get to crisis mode before our elected officials actually determine that it's time to react to that; unfortunately we believe that that's the case in this situation."
We, being a task force team of contractors, road officials and citizens determined to pave the way for solutions to what they call a serious problem.
Bill Shreck, MDOT Director of Communications: "Tolling, public/private partnerships, registration fees, a number of ways you can look at switching from one kind of tax to another."
But road officials say, in some cases, the damage has already been done.
Jim Klett, Manager of Klett Construction Co.: "We are doing approximately about half of the volume that we did in the year 2000. Our contractors are being proactive, they're looking elsewhere and taking their business and trying to keep their employees working and keep the businesses afloat by doing work in other states."
And while the task force continues to look for ways to patch up the hole from a lack of federal funding, they can only hope to find concrete solutions that lead them on a road to economic recovery. The task force will hold their next meeting in Marquette on September 29th at Northern Michigan University.