Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Michigan road construction: $0 in 2009

3. January 2005 • Murph
Email this article

The State of Michigan has just released a draft transportation budget for the next five years. Continuing Governor Granholm’s “fix it first” strategy, combined with predicted declines in available funding, means that money for new construction will decrease drastically, hitting $0 in 2009 and possibly staying there. In addition to an article on the general impact of the plan, the Ann Arbor News discusses local projects jeopardized by lack of money. Widening US-23 between Brighton and Ann Arbor, rebuilding the I-94/Baker Road interchange, and constructing a new interchange at US-23 and US-12, all currently at various planning stages, will probably be delayed indefinitely.

The News quotes a Michigan Road Builders Association spokesman as saying that the state has “abandoned congestion relief” by not allocating enough money for new construction, and Ann Arbor’s State Representatives Chris Kolb and Liz Brater as supporting alternative methods, such as encouraging employers to allow flexible work hours, carpooling, and mass transit. The News does not comment on the possibility of financial motivations behind the Road Builders’ opinion that roadbuilding is the only way to alleviate congestion, nor does it mention the accepted wisdom in transportation planning (a field with a somewhat wider view than the roadbuilding field) that construction of new roads does not have any effect on reducing congestion.

MDOT will be holding “listening sessions” to collect public feedback, as well as taking comments by phone and e-mail, on the plan before presenting it for final approval at the end of January. The entire plan (and region-specific plans) is available at MDOT’s website.

Submit comments
> by e-mail to MDOT-2004-2008FiveYearPlanComment@michigan.gov
> by phone to 866-667-0001
> at the University Region listening session, Monday, 10 January, 2-4pm, 4701 W. Michigan Avenue, Jackson
> at the University Region listening session, Tuesday, 11 January, 5-7pm, 3535 Grand Oaks Drive, Howell

Update, 6 December: Today’s Michigan Daily editorial, Construction Free, speaks in favor of the lack of new-build funds, as well as in favor of a higher gas tax.



  1. I think this is great. It should put a brake on sprawl to some of the areas where infrastructure isn’t already there to support it, and will encourage infill. Awesome. There are plenty of existing roads in say, Detroit, that don’t nearly handle the capacity they could … and plenty of vacant lots with infrastructure in place to build on top of. And if this means those crappy roads might actually get fixed—even better! And for the SUV drivers who insist on building out, further and further, and begin to suffer in their commutes—maybe they’ll start to see the wisdom of density and transit…

    An aside: anyone know where I can find the state of Michigan Consititution online and, if so, where I’d find reference to how state transportation dollars are to be divied up? Someone once told me that the state consititution requires a certain (high) percentage of trainsit dollars be spent on roads—which creates problems for large mass transit projects. Anyone know anything about this?
       —Scott T.    Jan. 3 '05 - 12:19PM    #
  2. Michigan Constitution of 1963

    Looks like you want Title IX, sec. 9:

    All specific taxes, except general sales and use taxes and regulatory fees, imposed directly or indirectly on fuels sold or used to propel motor vehicles upon highways and to propel aircraft and on registered motor vehicles and aircraft shall, after the payment of necessary collection expenses, be used exclusively for transportation purposes as set forth in this section.

    Not less than 90 percent of the specific taxes, except general sales and use taxes and regulatory fees, imposed directly or indirectly on fuels sold or used to propel motor vehicles upon highways and on registered motor vehicles shall, after the payment of necessary collection expenses, be used exclusively for the transportation purposes of planning, administering, constructing, reconstructing, financing, and maintaining state, county, city, and village roads, streets, and bridges designed primarily for the use of motor vehicles using tires, and reasonable appurtenances to those state, county, city, and village roads, streets, and bridges.

    This doesn’t count federal transportation financing, though, which is shading more towards non-automobile forms of transportation with ISTEA (1992ish), TEA-21 (1998ish), and TEA-3 (the transportation bill that’s been held up in Congress for 2 years now)
       —Murph    Jan. 3 '05 - 03:53PM    #
  3. Yeah. It’s still absurd. If spending some of the $$$ from gas and other auto-related taxes for mass-transit would ease the stress on the auto infrastructure, might it not be a wise investment? I wonder how much money the big three spent on lobbyists to get that one in there.
       —Scott T.    Jan. 4 '05 - 09:02AM    #
  4. I’m thinking about going to the Tuesday public input session in Howell; anybody interested in going with?
       —Murph    Jan. 6 '05 - 10:57AM    #