FUNDING: MDOT director accuses legislators of giving up on fixing roads

TRIP report shows deficient or congested roadways cost Michigan $7.7B

Funding News WEMU, TRIP January 22, 2014
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Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan DOT, is accusing his state’s legislators of giving up on passing a long-term transportation funding bill this year, WEMU radio in Ypsilanti, Mich., reported.


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says the state’s road network needs a $1 billion increase in funding and wants the legislature to find the revenue. The legislature says Michigan voters are not ready to pay for an increase in taxes or fees to pay for better road infrastructure.


“Are they suggesting that a bridge fall down?” Steudle asked. “Did they suggest how many people should die?”


TRIP has released a report saying that roads and bridges that are deficient, congested or lack desirable safety features cost Michigan motorists a total of $7.7 billion statewide due to higher vehicle operating costs (VOC), traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.


According to the report from TRIP, Washington, D.C., increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could relieve traffic congestion, improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety and support long-term economic growth in Michigan.


The report, “Future Mobility in Michigan: The Cost of Meeting the State’s Need for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” finds that throughout Michigan, more than a quarter of major roads and highways are in poor or mediocre condition. A total of 27% of Michigan’s bridges show significant deterioration or do not meet current design standards. The state’s major urban roads experience moderate levels of congestion, with drivers wasting increasing amounts of time and fuel. And Michigan’s rural noninterstate traffic fatality rate is significantly higher than the fatality rate on all other roads in the state.


Driving on deficient roads costs each Detroit-area driver $1,600 per year, each Grand Rapids-area driver $1,027 and each Lansing-area driver $1,032 in the form of extra vehicle operating costs as a result of driving on roads in need of repair, lost time and fuel due to congestion-related delays, and the cost of traffic crashes in which roadway features likely were a contributing factor. The TRIP report also calculated the cost to motorists of insufficient roads in Grand Rapids and Lansing.


“These numbers get worse with every new report,” said Steudle. “MDOT has found millions in savings through innovations and efficiencies, but cuts alone will not provide the additional dollars needed to shore up roads, bridges, rail and bus systems. Michigan’s continued comeback hinges on new investment in transportation, the state’s economic backbone.”

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