LANSING, Mich, Oct. 26, 2011 — Better roads drive better jobs, Gov. Rick Snyder said today in calling for the revitalization of Michigan’s deteriorating infrastructure.
Snyder highlighted Michigan’s critical needs in his Special Message to the Legislature on Infrastructure. He released the recommendations during a news conference at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, a leader in developing innovative road construction materials.
“Michigan’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time,” Snyder said. “We must reinvest in it if we are to successfully reinvent our economy. I haven’t met a Michigan driver yet who is satisfied with the condition of our roads and yet we’re facing a $1.4 billion shortfall just to maintain our current system. If we want to grow our economy and keep our children here, then we need to fix the very foundation of our state. Michigan put the world on wheels. We can continue being a transportation leader through bold, innovative approaches to upgrading our infrastructure. It’s time to seriously engage in this discussion that is so vital to our state’s future.”
The governor’s message focuses on four primary needs:
• A modern transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently, reliably and safely.
• A multimodal system serving the movements of a new generation of Michiganders that is more
active, urban-based and tech savvy.
• Water and sewer systems that support and protect Michigan’s rich environment.
• Integrating the broadband telecommunications network, connecting every business and
household to the Internet.
“Modern roads, clean water and broadband access are among the building blocks of Michigan’s prosperity,” Snyder said.
Michigan is ideally positioned to emerge as a global trade center due to its location within the international shipping and logistics stream between Detroit, Chicago and Toronto. Taking advantage of that opportunity demands a modern infrastructure.
While noting the state’s continued innovations in transportation infrastructure and new technology, Snyder called for further cost savings and efficiencies through additional reforms and best practices. Proposals include:
• Allowing counties to absorb their county road commissions to ensure greater accountability.
Michigan is the only state with county road agencies.
• Giving the state the authority to audit county road agencies.
• Updating Public Act 51 of 1951 to remove cities and villages that receive less than $50,000 in
transportation funding from the distribution of P.A. 51 funds. Rather than go to jurisdictions,
money will stay with the road so it can be distributed to whatever larger road agency maintains
those roads and bridges.
• Ensuring that agencies covered under P.A. 51 conform to Michigan’s new law requiring
employees to contribute 20 percent of their health care premiums, and have new employees
placed on defined contribution retirement plans.
• Allow agencies covered by P.A. 51 to open construction and maintenance contracts to
competitive bidding from the public and private sectors.
Snyder also is urging dramatic reforms to Michigan’s transportation user fees to ensure sustainable funding for roads and bridges. He pointed to the 2008 Transportation Funding Task Force and this year’s House Transportation Committee work group, both of which cite the need for significant funding increases. Recommendations include:
• Allowing counties and regional authorities to levy a local vehicle registration fee to support
transportation if approved by local voters.
• Eliminating the state’s current 19-cents-per-gallon gas tax and 15-cents-per-gallon diesel tax in
favor of a percentage wholesale tax on fuel, which is a more viable long-term funding
approach. The wholesale tax would be revenue neutral upon enactment.
• Increasing investment in our infrastructure by $1 billion to $1.4 billion each year. For the sake
of discussion, a state registration fee increase of $10 per month on the average passenger
vehicle would raise nearly $1 billion.
• Distributing new transportation funding based on road use and traffic volumes, with a seven- to
10-year transition period for full effect. This would include any new revenues beyond what is
collected and spent today.
The governor pointed out that Michigan loses nearly $3 million each day in the value of its transportation assets, or $1 billion annually. Each dollar spent today to preserve a road or bridge saves Michigan at least $6 in future rebuilding costs.
Further developing Michigan’s bus and rail transit, aviation system and ports is essential to the state’s future as well. Michigan has rail freight projects, such as the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal and Detroit Railroad Tunnel expansion, ready for construction with additional investment. Thanks to the Legislature’s actions, Michigan also has secured $440 million in federal rail funds to accelerate passenger rail service from Detroit and Pontiac to Chicago.
Recognizing the importance of aviation to the global transportation network, Snyder proposes continued investment in the safety and efficiency of airports. He also will work with Michigan’s congressional delegation to secure additional funds to dredge Great Lakes ports and pursue construction of a new shipping lock in Sault Ste. Marie.
Michigan’s abundant water resources, which support many of our economic and quality of life benefits, must be protected as well. For example, failing sewer systems can have a direct impact on the number of beach closings across Michigan each year. The governor is endorsing recommendations of the State Revolving Fund Advisory Group to use $1 billion approved by voters in 2002 to provide grants and low-interest loans to help communities upgrade sewer and water systems.
Broadband service is another critical link to Michigan’s future, according to Snyder. To complement $247 million in federal broadband funding, Snyder is calling for the interconnecting of local governments and school districts to avoid duplication. He is also urging the Michigan Public Safety Commission to open its communications system towers to Internet service providers, and is encouraging the streamlining of utility work permit clearances in state road rights of way.
The entire Special Message on Infrastructure is available at www.michigan.gov/snyder.