Crain's Detroit Business
Monday, January 22, 2007
Michigan's road builders are calling for a nearly 50 percent increase in the state gas tax, but so far it's unclear what reception they'll get from Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature.
The Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, an Okemos-based group representing road and bridge builders, underground contractors and other construction interests, is looking at legislative measures to generate $1 billion annually in road funding.
Ideas include: An up to nine-cent increase in Michigan's 19-cent gas tax, possibly phased in over three years; a minimum four-cent increase in Michigan's 15-cent diesel tax and then further hikes as the gas tax rises; and increases in vehicle registration fees.
The package also could include legislation to allow local governments to assess, with local voter approval, fees or taxes solely dedicated to local roads. MITA also is interested in the creation of a long-term task force to explore ideas to improve Michigan's road system, such as building dedicated express lanes in which drivers pay a premium to bypass congestion.
“We believe that this has to be a comprehensive, well-thought-out, long-term solution,” said Mike Nystrom, MITA's vice president of government and public relations. “One of the primary reasons why we're pushing this now is we think the state needs to step up and take care of our own house, with regards to transportation funding, before we can ever go back to Washington ... and demand that Michigan gets its fair share.”