Transportation Strategy and Funding in the Region

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This year a Transportation Reauthorization bill will be negotiated at the federal level. This will shape transportation policy and funding for the next several years, and Michigan will need to be prepared in order to move important projects forward. States nationwide are developing their strategy to meet the need of their potential economic and environmental opportunities, which will provide greater leverage to participating in new funding models. Is Michigan prepared for a new national policy strategy and positioned to compete in new funding models?

Transportation strategy and future funding models are truly critical to the future growth of our region. It’s no secret that our nation’s transportation systems are woefully behind other countries around the globe. Federal resources to invest in infrastructure are limited. And here in Michigan, we have our own set of funding challenges.

Many states have been able to effectively leverage private investment into major capital investment into their freight and passenger transportation systems. The Port of Virginia has attracted a private operator to invest in an expansion of their port capabilities and pay for those improvements through the management of the port operations. Public private partnerships can be used to draw capital, provide procurement efficiency, and move risk to private companies for projects that voters are not able to effectively evaluate.

The Detroit Regional Chamber believes we must invest in — and leverage our transportation assets. These assets are tools to facilitate trade and access to other markets and will generate wealth and economic well being for our region.

By strategically investing in our transportation system and allowing private companies to match our local investments, we create a competitive environment to conduct business and trade — moving goods and people. But it’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen without strategic partnerships. The states that will succeed in creating effective transportation strategy and progressive project management will do so based on the collaboration of all sectors — government, academia, business, labor, and community.

Tammy Carnrike is COO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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