michigan roads

The Next Idea 

As we near the vote to raise the sales tax to fund our abysmal roads, we’ve heard this question come up quite a bit these last few months:

“Why couldn’t the Legislature just do the job they were elected to do instead of passing responsibility off to the voters?”

The short answer -- and you’re not going to like this -- is that it is not their fault.

It’s ours.

Peter Payette

Next month, Michigan voters will decide whether to boost funding for the state’s roads by more than $1 billion.

Decaying roads have dominated headlines in Michigan for more than year, but polling data shows Proposal 1 is likely headed for failure.

An Epic MRA poll from last week showed it trailing among likely voters by a margin of two-to-one.

We hear from Rick Pluta of the Michigan Public Radio Network about why the measure is unpopular and what alternatives may exist.

MDOT to present options on Division Street redesign

Apr 2, 2015
Aaron Selbig

Division Street in Traverse City has long been considered one of the most dangerous roadways in the area. State transportation planners are working on a fix for the street. After collecting input from the public last year, the Michigan Department of Transportation plans to unveil several alternatives next month.

The Next Idea

You’ve heard the impassioned arguments about public transportation in Michigan. Let’s start with the rational. Our roads are among the worst in the nation. Our lawmakers have clearly demonstrated that they are not up to the task of maintaining our aging infrastructure. Michigan, a state known for producing automobiles, has become a place where it is increasingly difficult to drive one.

  Gov. Rick Snyder says there’s no backup plan to boost road funding if voters reject a sales tax increase in May.

Snyder urged listeners to vote “yes” on the measure during an appearance on Michigan Public Radio’s statewide call-in program “Michigan Calling.”

Proposal 1 is the road funding proposal that will be up for a vote on May 5th. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has long expressed their support for a road funding solution, but they are staying neutral on the proposal.

State Representative Ray Franz held another informational meeting today about the higher sales tax proposed for Michigan.

Franz says voters are being told it will provide more money for roads and bridges, which is true, but he says the higher tax would increase spending in many other areas.

“It adds another $300 million for schools. It adds another $95 million dollars for local government,” Franz says. “Those are all not roads and bridges.”

Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation to raise $1.2 billion to repair roads. But, the money all depends on voters approving a tax hike.

One of the bills signed by the governor will guarantee that all state taxes paid at the pump will go to roads. Increasing the sales tax by a penny on every dollar to 7 percent would ensure schools, local governments and mass transit don’t lose money. A sales tax increase requires a statewide vote.

Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders have struck a deal on road funding.

After many, many closed-door meetings, the announcement was made at a news conference at the Capitol.

To get to more than $1 billion in funding, the centerpiece of the plan is an increase in the state sales tax. It’s something voters would have to decide in a ballot question in May.

Snyder says that’s OK with him.

Listen to our conversation with Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark below.

Division Street options to be unveiled by March

Dec 9, 2014
Aaron Selbig

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to come up with three alternatives to fix Division Street in Traverse City. The department held an open house Tuesday night to gather input on what should be done to improve safety and efficiency on the busy road.

Planner Patty O’Donnell said MDOT received all kinds of feedback from the public.

“It’s not bicycle friendly; pedestrians can’t cross,” said O’Donnell. “We’ve also heard from the neighborhoods, ‘Do not do anything that will make the people come through our neighborhoods.’”

We've heard plenty during this campaign season about school funding, pension taxes, and outside money, but the Michigan Chamber of Commerce would like there to be more focus on the state of our roads

Rich Studley is the executive director of the Chamber. He says there are just a few legislative sessions after the election and before the end of the year, so there’s not much time to pass legislation to fix the roads.

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