In Michigan, a common saying is “there are two seasons: winter and road construction.” Rough winters and underinvestment for the past 50 years have led the Great Lakes state to have some of the worst roads in the nation. And while construction season may seem constant during the warmer months, the truth is currently the state cannot keep up with meeting the needs to maintain or improve roads and bridges.
The continual underinvestment has led to a backlog of needs and safety issues. Gov. Rick Snyder has been advocating for the past few years that something needs to be done to change the state’s trajectory. Last December, in an eleventh hour deal, the state legislature decided to punt the decision to the voters.
In just under a month, the option to increase funding for roads will be considered at the polls. If passed, Proposal 1 would raise $1.2 billion a year to be invested exclusively into transportation. As I drove around my hometown last week, this seemed like a no-brainer.
I’ve included a couple photos, but it does not fully do the problem justice. Many roads are in such bad shape that debris lines the shoulders of the street, rubble that is a byproduct of the potholes and gaping cracks in the pavement.
The same month state lawmakers devised Prop 1, TRIP released a study revealing poor roads were costing the average Michigan driver $539 a year —and remember it’s the Motor City, people love their cars and many work for the auto industry. In some areas the extra vehicle operation costs that include accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repairs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear costs drivers as much as $851 a year.
Here is how Proposal 1 works:
- Raise the state sales tax rate by one penny, from 6 percent to 7 percent
- Implement a series of laws that exempt fuel from the sales tax, then impose a higher fuel tax whose revenue would be used exclusively for transportation
- Raise vehicle registration fees to increase transportation funding
More importantly, here is what it will do:
- Raises $1.2 billion each year to increase investment in transportation—bringing Michigan more in line with the transportation investment of neighboring states
- Ensure every penny raised at the gas pump goes to improving Michigan’s roads, bridges and public transit
- Protect taxpayers by getting road builders to give warranties on the roads they build
ASCE joins a wide range of groups in supporting Proposal 1. From Gov. Snyder to The Detroit Free Press, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to Mlive.com, and The Detroit News to the Small Business Association of Michigan.
Tell your friends, family, and neighbors to vote “Yes” on May 5th so that the condition of Michigan’s roads and bridges can start improving.