Ann Arbor Area Community News
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.
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.
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