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michigan roads

Bridge: Republican ideas to fund Michigan road repairs taking shape over summer

Jul 17, 2019
Potholes on a road in Ann Arbor.
Daniel Hensel / Michigan Radio

One Republican idea to help counties and larger cities in Michigan pay for local road repairs: allowing them to levy their own gas taxes and vehicle registration fees.

a team photo of the Muskegon Lassies
Courtesy of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League

 

 

Today on Stateside, an overview of the Michigan state legislature's most recent budget proposal, which would fund roads by borrowing against the state's teacher pension plan. Plus, a new study from the University of Michigan could help policymakers target resources to the Michigan counties hit hardest by the opioid crisis.

 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

 

Today on Stateside, a Republican proposal to fix Michigan’s roads is circulating in Lansing that wouldn't raise taxes. Plus a look at avian botulism, a disease that’s killing waterfowl across the Great Lakes.

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

With Republicans firmly opposed to a 45-cents-a-gallon fuel tax hike, Democratic lawmakers want businesses to do more to help fix the roads.

A new $1.2 billion proposal from House Democrats would raise the state's corporate tax, create a new 6-cents-a-mile tax for heavy trucks and charge bridge tolls to tractor-trailers. It also includes portions of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's budget plan, such as raising taxes on certain businesses so they are taxed the same as traditional corporations and restoring tax breaks for pensioners.

Expressway with cars and a Pay Toll sign
soupstock / Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer ran on the promise to “fix the damn roads.” The Michigan House of Representatives is attempting to do just that with its proposed transportation budget for the next fiscal year.

Michigan governor's office

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is currently attending the Mackinac Policy Conference, an annual meeting of business people, politicians, and activists where one of the topics of discussion is how exactly to address Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure. 

Stateside caught up with the governor to talk about how the push to “fix the damn roads" is going.

Asian Carp
Kate Gardiner / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

Today on Stateside, after years of scandal and leadership turmoil, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees have named Samuel Stanley Jr. as MSU's new president. Plus, why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are recommending a $778 million plan to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
User: frankileon / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, we look at why people in rural parts of Michigan have difficulty accessing what many doctors consider the most effective treatment for opioid addiction. We also talk about the roots of Islamophobia in the United States, and the financial strain PFAS contamination puts on municipalities.

Paul Ajegba (right) talks with people before Tuesday's Senate Advice and Consent committee meeting.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The man picked to implement Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s main campaign promise to “fix the damn roads” was grilled by state senators Tuesday.

Paul Ajegba has been with the Michigan Department of Transportation for nearly three decades. He was picked by the governor in December to serve as MDOT director. 

He told the Senate Advice and Consent committee that Michigan’s poor roads are a result of a history of temporary fixes to stretch state tax dollars. Ajegba noted Michigan has ranked near the bottom for per capita spending on roads.

Union lockout halts major Michigan road projects

Sep 5, 2018
Raymond. D. Woods, Jr. / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Some important road projects across the state - including I-696 and I-75 - are on hold because of a lockout of unionized heavy equipment operators and technicians, represented by Operating Engineers Local 324.

Brooklyn, past and present
Village of Brooklyn

Cities, towns, and villages across Michigan are struggling to provide basic services, like road maintenance. Local budgets face reduced revenue sharing from the state and are also limited in how much money they can generate through taxes, a result of the Headlee Amendment of 1978.

Journalism’s dilemma in the age of Trump

Mar 27, 2018

One of my morning rituals is that after I have written for a while, I wake up my Australian Shepherd and we engage in a vigorous game of tug of war while I watch the headlines on CNN.

When I did this yesterday, the screen was filled with Anderson Cooper, one of the best interviewers in journalism today, with an excerpt from his interview the night before of a porn star. He was asking her whether her most famous contact had used a condom during their sexual encounter, and as she said no, I turned the TV off.

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says it's time to raise the federal gas tax to fix Michigan's disintegrating roads. Snyder says the state has done its part by increasing fees and fuel taxes, and local governments have come up with their own ways to increase revenue. Now, he says its the federal government's turn to step up.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that's a realistic expectation.


Dropping pennies into potholes

Mar 21, 2018

Governor Rick Snyder was all relentlessly positive smiles yesterday when he signed a bill adding $175 million dollars to this year’s state’s road repair budget.

“There are roads that actually will get fixed because of this investment. You are going to see a lot of barrels in every corner of Michigan because of this,” the governor added.

pixabay

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a budget bill that accelerates spending on road repairs in time to help with the spring and summer construction season.

The bill shifts $175 million from next year’s construction season to use this coming spring and summer to fix roads.

“You’re going to see a lot of (orange) barrels in every corner of Michigan,” he said.

But this spending on repairs is still not expected to keep pace with the rate at which roads are crumbling following a freeze-and-thaw winter’s that’s been brutal on pavement.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Lansing needs to step up and provide adequate roads funding or else tell local governments they’re on their own, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said Monday.

Hackel blasted the Michigan Legislature’s 2015 “fix” that raised fuel taxes and driver registration fees, but generates far too little revenue for the state’s actual infrastructure needs. He made those remarks as Macomb unveiled a new online resource about county road conditions, and what it will cost to fix them.

Charlotte Finnegan, an MI Curious question asker

It’s pothole season in Michigan, that time of year when drivers really notice the state’s crumbling roads, too often paying the cost in vehicle repairs. Meanwhile, crews are busy patching potholes, but many streets and roads need a lot more than a patch.

Dan Gilmartin is the CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League, which represents cities and villages in the state, got a chance to talk to a U.S. Senate committee about the state of the roads in Michigan.

Courtesy of Victor Li

Michigan isn’t alone in the struggle to repair crumbling roads and bridges.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's infrastructure a grade of "D" based on years of underfunding and delayed maintenance.

Victor Li may have the key to solving this nationwide struggle.

Why are Michigan roads so bad? Because we don’t put enough money into fixing them.

Why is that? Because lawmakers don’t fear underfunding the state’s roads will cost them on Election Day.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A snowy winter mixed with a few recent warmer days could make for a particularly nasty pothole season in Michigan.

A Michigan Department of Transportation spokesperson says more people seem to be calling the state’s pipeline hotline this year. So far, more than 500 people have reported problems on roads across the state using the hotline.

Multiple potholes along a concrete road.
User: Pearl Pirie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Yesterday, the state of Michigan went through a process called the Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference. University and governmental economists met to discuss where the economy is going and what its projections mean for the state budget.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in Michigan are in pretty bad shape. Michigan does not have the money to tackle some of the biggest projects.

Increasingly, transportation officials are turning to the private sector for help. These public-private partnerships (P3s) are seen as a way to make improvements more efficiently. The real question, though, is whether they really are more efficient or whether they end up costing taxpayers more?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A new study says Michigan's transportation system is better prepared for climate change than many other Midwest states.

But it's still not enough, according to the Midwest Economic Policy Institute.

Study author Mary Craighead says Michigan will see higher temperatures, heavier rains, increased erosion, and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles.  That will damage bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

Craighead says it's an economic issue for the whole country, not just Michigan.

striped safety cones on a road
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Gov. Rick Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road funding package in 2015 that called for increased vehicle registration fees and gas taxes, many of which went into effect this year.

In an interview with Stateside this week, Michigan Department of Transportation director Kirk Steudle said the state was “still trying to manage the deterioration,” but the overall quality of roads was yet to rise, despite the fresh tax revenue. But he noted the general fund component of the 2015 funding package has yet to kick in.

Cracked and broken roads
nirbhao / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Roads, bridges, sewer lines, water systems and all the other infrastructure in the state is, by multiple assessments, in trouble in Michigan.

Two studies say the state needs to spend $4 billion a year. The governor wants at least $1.2 billion a year more to get infrastructure back into decent shape.

None of that has happened.

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An ethics watchdog organization is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate a Twitter battle that broke out between Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and White House staffer Dan Scavino. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the group's allegations that Amash violated House rules and Scavino violated the Hatch Act

They also discuss a study that shows an increasingly bleak future for Michigan roads and bridges, legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, and a report that says roughly $40 million was spent on the state's 14 congressional races in 2016. 

Dvortygirl / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan legislature boosted transportation funding in 2015 - but not enough to keep the condition of state roads and bridges from getting worse, according to a recent report from TRIP, a national transportation research group.  

The report says the additional money will not be enough to fund some $3.3 billion in needed transportation improvement projects.

The money to fix Michigan roads is too little, too late

Apr 5, 2017

For a few years, we were constantly hearing about how terrible Michigan’s roads were–and how the legislature kept ignoring citizens’ pleas to fix them.

Then, a couple of years ago, lawmakers did enact what was billed as a road repair package. It doesn’t start providing any new money until this year, but four years from now, it's supposed to generate something like $1.2 billion a year to fix the roads.

Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

New Michigan roadways may soon be getting the green light. 

This comes after the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) released a report earlier this year, announcing pilot projects to test better and longer-lasting road construction.

The report was presented to legislators this month. Gov. Snyder signed a $1.2 billion road improvement bill in 2015 that recommended the state study new ways to build roads.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan motorists will see state taxes on gasoline and diesel jump this weekend.

On New Year’s Day, the gas tax is rising 7.3 cents a gallon.  The diesel tax is increasing by 11 cents.  The increase will give Michigan the 5th highest gas tax in the nation.   

The tax increase, along with state auto fees, will help fund desperately needed road repair and improvements across the state.

Denise Donahue is the director of the County Road Association of Michigan.  She says it’s important for motorists to see the money being used to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

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