I would like to commend The Detroit Free Press’ recent editorial, “Miles to Keep Up,” for providing a glimpse into the current financial struggle to properly maintain Michigan’s neglected transportation network. As the infrastructure crumbles around us and we continue to “patch” where major repairs are truly needed, the Michigan’s taxpaying, driving public continues to pay the price.
Michigan is currently facing a $700 million annual funding gap between the amount available for transportation projects and what is needed to adequately maintain and improve roads and bridges. The state legislature has used budget shortfalls as an excuse to transfer transportation funding to other departments, creating an even greater shortage. With a considerably lower gas tax in comparison to neighboring states and the fact that Michigan continues to donate transportation dollars at the federal level, the current funding is not adequate. Fuel efficiency in new vehicles as well as increased use of alternative fuel vehicles could also affect future tax income from gas, creating an even larger gap.
As the Detroit Free Press recognized, providing money for roads and bridges is necessary not only for safety, but also for building a stronger economy. Other states have made transportation funding a priority – and we wonder why our economy continues to stagnate. It is time to create a solution for Michigan’s embarrassing transportation dilemma.