MI opens proposed $11B transportation program for comments
MDOT's proposal would allocate $8.2 billion for highway upgrades; $2.3 billion for bus, rail and port projects; and $488 million for aviation work.
Barring any last-minute hiccups, the Michigan State Transportation Commission is expected to approve the plan in September. Fuel tax increases and user fees are expected to raise approximately $600 million toward the program.
MDOT's proposal comes as the state faces a shortfall in funding for infrastructure work. An April study from public interest group TRIP found that Michigan was more than $3 billion short of being able to fund its necessary road and bridge work. With its current level of investment — a $4.2 billion funding increase enacted in 2015 and set to run through 2023 — TRIP estimated that the percentage of roads in poor condition would increase from 20% to 50% by 2020.
Michigan isn't the only state playing catch-up in infrastructure investment. In response to consistent reports of structurally deficient bridges and substandard highway systems from organizations like the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers, states including California, Indiana and Arizona have recently launched their own massive infrastructure programs.
To make up for limited federal resources, however, they're turning to tax increases on fuel and vehicle sales, tolling and additional registration fees to fund the expansive projects. State transportation agencies also benefit from special charges for electric and hybrid car registrations because those vehicles don't generate much in the way of gas-tax revenue.
While some state and federal lawmakers still object to raising the gas tax, a new Bloomberg poll suggests a majority of their constituents feel otherwise. According to the poll, 55% of Americans say they would support a federal gas tax hike if those funds were put toward improving roads and bridges in their state.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao floated the idea of raising the federal gas tax — which has held at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993 — as one solution to backing the Trump administration's highly anticipated $1 trillion infrastructure package.
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