FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: DUSTY FANCHER, 487-9539
The Michigan Department of Transportation presented the biggest road-building binge in its history yesterday. Build Michigan III dedicates over 900 million dollars to build new and wider roads. Careful analysis finds MDOT 82 million dollars over budget before a single project has started.
In a package presented to the Legislature on Monday, MDOT attached a project list and detailed budget. The program emphasized capacity enhancement creating 33 percent new roads, 29 percent wider roads, and 38 percent to other capacity improvements.
To fund this massive expansion MDOT plans to use 100 million dollars from the rainy day fund and then bond for 800 million dollars to cover the projects. They have set aside an additional 53 million for debt service. Unfortunately, the budget totals BMIII projects at 983 million dollars. To make matters worse, the budget did not include construction costs for some of the most contentious projects. These include I-94 in Wayne and Kalamazoo Counties, I-75 in Oakland County, US 31 in Ottawa County and US 23 in Washtenaw County.
Perhaps a larger problem for MDOT is the lack of proper reporting. In July Governor Engler signed into law a provision requiring MDOT to provide a life cycle cost analysis along with the budget and project list. Determining the cost of a road for its life expectancy prepares economists for future spending needs. Dusty Fancher of the Michigan Environmental Council said this is an important detail because “a life cycle cost analysis would allow Michigan residents to see the long term investment of this monster program proposed by MDOT. Looking at this it is obvious that we need to focus spending on maintaining the roads we have before building new ones.”
Michigan roads are already falling apart. According to MDOT data, within 7 years 56 percent of state highways will require major repair work. Sustaining our transportation system needs to become MDOT’s first priority. Fixing existing roads and maintaining them in a safe condition should come before building a billion dollars worth of new roads. With this program BMIII is headed the wrong direction down a one-way street.
The Michigan Environmental Council is a non-profit coalition of organizations representing over 150,000 residents dedicated to protecting Michigan’s people and the environment. For more information online visit our website at www.mecprotects .org.
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912