MI Senate Moves on Road Policy Reforms

Late last week, Michigan’s Governor and Legislative leaders elected to set aside the road rage for each other regarding the best way to, as the Governor has characterized it, “fix the damn roads,” in favor of making the state budget a top priority. So far, they continue to be at an impasse regarding the “fiscal” state of affairs while Senate Republicans have turned their attention back to the “physical” state of affairs on Michigan roadways, regardless of funding parameters.

Despite the breakdown in budget negotiations thus far this week, Senate Republicans are back talking about the roads. They have today lined up what they say are “Road policy reforms that would ensure efficient, effective tax dollar use” for the people of Michigan.

A set of 10 bills introduced by Senate Republicans today, Thursday, September 12th, aim to improve oversight and transparency of road construction projects to ensure efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars on the state’s roadways.

Senate Bill 524, sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata from Southwest Michigan, would require the Michigan Department of Transportation and local road agencies to post a sign at the beginning of a road construction work site that displays the name of the contractor doing the work, a completion date (expected and actual), and the expected lifespan of the new road surface. For larger projects, additional signs would be placed at 5-mile increments.

ADVERTISEMENT
Your content continues below

LaSata, from Bainbridge Township, says, “Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been dedicated for road construction and maintenance projects in recent years, and more should be done to ensure that what is being spent is used efficiently and effectively.” She adds, “This legislation will help make sure that is happening and will help keep Michiganders informed about how their tax dollars are being used, by whom, and how long the work that’s being done will last.”

The proposed laws would also:

  • Improve the current road warranty program to provide better value…
  • Maximize the use of federal transportation funding that the state receives…
  • Require MDOT to study the feasibility of tolls on Michigan bridges or roadways…
  • Establish a local road agency advocate to assist with developing plans to comply with federal and state requirements and permitting…
  • Improve collaboration between the state and local roads agencies by extending local asset management horizons and ensuring MDOT continues to supply long-range plans…
  • Require MDOT to develop a road construction inflation index to measure changes in cost within the highway construction industry annually…
  • Take steps to stop abuse of farming and logging vehicle registrations…
  • Require local units of government, when adding new roads to their system or planning new infrastructure, to include how maintenance will be paid for…

LaSata says, “It is important to note that these are road policy reforms and not a specific road funding plan,” pointing out, “These bills are all about making the best of the road funding we already have and improving policies to better ensure we are making smart investments and our road infrastructure needs are being met.”