GRAND RAPIDS, MI. – Further delays in enacting a long-term solution to Michigan’s deteriorating roads and bridges needlessly risk lives, slam families and businesses with additional costs, and stifle job growth, West Michigan community leaders said today at a roundtable discussion with Gov. Rick Snyder.
The governor has offered a fair, comprehensive plan that will raise the necessary $1.2 billion annually for local and state infrastructure repairs. About 60 percent of the revenue will go to counties, cities and villages for their roads and bridges. He reviewed the initiative with roundtable participants at the Auto FixIt Body Shop on Ottawa Avenue after inspecting aging, deteriorating infrastructure that required the installation of temporary supports under I-196 near Broadway Avenue.
“The message from every corner of our state is clear,” Snyder said. “It’s time to fix the roads. Michiganders are tired of dodging potholes, whether it’s on the highway or in their neighborhoods. They’re fed up with getting socked with auto repair bills because Lansing has ignored the problem for too long.
“There’s nothing Michigan can’t do, as we’ve seen these past four years. Our economic turnaround is a model for the nation. But, to achieve our full potential, we need a modern infrastructure that keeps families safe and invites investment from job creators. Let’s stop making excuses and dragging our feet. We have a plan that’s ready to go. I am asking House members to join the Senate in approving our plan. Let’s finish the job.”
The plan will result in county road commissions, cities and villages seeing an average funding increase of 73 percent by 2018. For example, over four years in West Michigan:
- Kent County will see nearly $18 million more in road dollars, with $7.7 million going to Grand Rapids.
- Allegan County receives an additional $5 million.
- Barry County receives an additional $2.7 million.
- Ionia County receives an additional $2.7 million.
- Mecosta County receives an additional $2.3 million.
- Montcalm County receives an additional $3.2 million.
- Newaygo County receives an additional $2.8 million.
- Ottawa County receives an additional $10 million.
Crumbling roads and bridges have a significant impact on the state. An estimated 100 lives can be saved each year if Michigan improves its infrastructure, according to a 2012 analysis by The Road Information Program (TRIP). In addition, one in nine bridges across Michigan is rated as “structurally deficient,” which means their conditions show deterioration. Family budgets take a big hit as well, with poor roads causing an average of $539 in additional annual vehicle operating costs due to repairs, tire wear and increased fuel consumption, TRIP reports.
In addition to saving lives and reducing auto repair bills, investing in our roads and bridges will contribute to the creation of about 12,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Michigan hasn’t updated its overall investment in roads since the gas tax – which currently is the primary source of revenue – was adjusted in 1997.
Basic elements of the governor’s plan that recently were approved by the state Senate include:
- Eliminating the current 19 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax and 15 cents-per-gallon diesel fuel tax at the pump, and instead charge a tax on gasoline wholesalers.
- Increasing the wholesale tax by 2 percent each year for three years, occurring every Jan. 1.
- Doubling the fines for violations of truck weight limits and dedicating half of that revenue to the State Trunk Line Fund.
“There’s a time for discussion and a time for action, Snyder said. “After nearly 20 years of discussion in Lansing, taxpayers deserve action. There’s no getting around it. The bill will only get bigger the longer we wait. We can pay today or pay twice as much tomorrow. It’s time for Lansing to step up so Michigan can keep moving forward.”