[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Build Michigan III becoming Fix Michigan III

Feb. 3, 2003

TO: Enviro-Mich
FROM: Kelly Thayer, MLUI

Kelly Thayer, Michigan Land Use Institute, 231-882-4723, ext. 13
Dusty Fancher, Michigan Environmental Council, 517-487-3606, ext. 15

Build Michigan III becoming Fix Michigan III

Hello Enviro-Mich Folks:

Following up on Dusty Fancher's original posting...

Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Friday quietly announced with a press release that she has taken the first step toward turning the Michigan Department of Transportation away from road expansion and toward real repair. The ship is turning, slowly!

Gov. Granholm has begun dissecting Build Michigan III - former Gov. Engler's $900 million new-and-wider road program launched in 2000 - by delaying some major widening projects, totaling $153 million, while moving forward with the repair portion of the same projects. In other words, Build Michigan III is gradually becoming Fix Michigan III.

That's been the Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition's message from the start. Organized by MEC and the Institute, M-TLC (and its 36 member groups and their 250,000 constituents) has done more than four years of groundwork on state transportation policy reform, and it continues to pay big dividends. Indeed, this is a victory for all those who are working to move the state, and its communities, toward fiscal sanity, mobility for all, and road policies that help build communities, not bisect them and overwhelm them with sprawl!

The four projects in Gov. Granholm's announcement involve:
* The I-375 East Riverfront Access project in Detroit, which is put on hold until right-of-way issues can be resolved. This has been a major focus of Transportation Riders United (TRU) and, perhaps, re-ignites the debate over the design of this project.
* The M-53 project from I-696 to 14 Mile Road in Warren.
* The M-59 widening project from I-96 to US-23 in Livingston County.
* The M-84 project from Kochville Road to Euclid Road in Saginaw.

Please see the governor's press release below for a bit more detail. MDOT's spokeswoman Stephanie Litaker gave this example to me this morning of how MDOT's shift in priorities will work under what I'm calling Fix Michigan III:

"We are using the $153 million to focus on preservation; some BM III projects have both expansion/preservation mixes, and while it will not be likely that the expansion portion will proceed the preservation aspect may. For example, the M-59/US-23 interchange project in Livingston County. The project initially called for expanding M-59 to a five lane boulevard and the reconstruction of the interchange. The expansion portion has
been deferred, while the interchange work will continue."

The need for this common-sense, truly conservative change in MDOT's priorities couldn't come at a better time.

* MDOT's interstate bridges are in the worst shape in the nation, and the interstate roads rank 5th worst.

        And overall Michigan’s highways and freeways have not improved a bit since 1997, when former Gov. John Engler announced a 10-year plan to renew the state’s roads, a brand new analysis by the Michigan Land Use Institute had found.
        In 1998 - one year into the state’s current road repair program - 57.5 percent of the roads had a life expectancy of just 7 years or less before needing to be wholly reconstructed. In 2000, 57.4 percent of Michigan’s roads had the same short life span of 7 years or less - a miniscule 0.1-percent improvement since 1998 after the state plowed about $2 billion into maintenance during the two-year window. In addition, 20 percent of the state’s roads in 2000 were dead and needed replacing, which is the same year Mr. Engler hatched a $900 million program (Build Michigan III) to borrow money to significantly expand the road network.
        Keep in mind that Michigan defines a “good” road as having at least 3 years of life left. It’s a standard so feeble that the state frequently claims it has nearly reached its 2007 repair goal, to make 90 percent of roads good, despite glaring problems. As a direct result, the wretched roads cost each Michigan motorist about $260 a year, or $1.8 billion total in damage to shocks, tires, mufflers, and other vehicle parts, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

* MDOT is spending at least 25% of its FY 2003 road budget on road expansions, $249 million on adding lanes and $92 million on new roads - thus a total of at least $341 million of this year's $1.36 billion budget road budget.
        In FY 2002, it was at least 33%, with $229 million on widenings and $258 million on new roads, or at least $487 million of $1.5 billion.
        In FY 2001, it was at least 35%, with $162 million going to widenings and $382 million going to new roads, or $544 million of the $1.54 billion road budget.
        That's $1.2 billion for more pavement in just 3 years, while Governor Engler claimed repeatedly that MDOT's focus was repair. In fact, the current MDOT 5-year Road & Bridge Program, Vol. IV - 2002 to 2006 says on page 10 that, "MDOT's emphasis continues to be the maintenance of the existing system. Ninety-four cents out of every dollar will be used to preserve and maintain the existing system. The remaining six cents will be used for roads."

What was once a pothole problem, moreover, has into a full-blown road repair crisis. The state is allowing some roads to decay prematurely while pouring cash into patching other portions of Michigan’s highways and freeways - some of the nation’s oldest - that it says would be more cost-effective to rip up and rebuild now, the Institute has discovered.

In effect, Michigan has been choosing to push its road repair predicament indefinitely into the future until the road system ceases to function normally, motorists sit surrounded by orange construction barrels, and massive new taxes are levied to address the mounting negligence. With her announcement, Gov. Granholm has signaled her intent to move Michigan in a much more sustainable direction.

Look for these details and more, in narrative form, in a forthcoming fix-it-first article from the Institute.

Kelly Thayer, MLUI


Governor Granholm's press release:
Mary Dettloff 517-373-0429

Granholm Defers New Road Projects; Focuses Investment in Repair

Friday, January 31, 2003
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that several transportation projects in Build Michigan III (BMIII) will be deferred until additional federal funding can be secured and other issues resolved. Approximately $153 million in Build Michigan III funds will be invested to focus on preservation rather than expansion.
“Michigan families deserve better roads right now,” Granholm said. “We must focus on fixing the roads we have today before we look to expanding tomorrow. I am directing that our transportation spending in Build Michigan III focus on preservation first. While these expansion projects are all worthy, it makes no sense to invest in them until more federal and local funding is secured.”

Under the proposal, all or portions of four projects have been deferred, pending local agreements and available funding to complete subsequent project phases.
·       The I-375 East Riverfront Access project in Detroit is deferred. This project supports the relocation of General Motors Headquarters to the Riverfront and related development, and is put on hold until right-of-way issues can be resolved. The deferral totals $68 million.
·       The M-53 project from I-696 to 14 Mile Road in Warren to support expansion of the GM Tech Center is deferred until funding agreements can be reached with the City of Warren. The deferral totals $4 million.
·       While the $30 million reconstruction of the M-59/US-23 interchange will continue, the M-59 widening project from I-96 to US-23 in Livingston County is deferred. The deferral totals $56 million.
·       The M-84 project from Kochville Road to Euclid Road in Saginaw, which totals $25 million, is deferred.


The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition (M-TLC) is a project of the
Michigan Land Use Institute www.mlui.org/ and the
Michigan Environmental Council www.mecprotects.org/.

* The Coalition's top 5 priorities are:
1. Fully Fund Transit
2. Increase Public Involvement
3. Fix Roads First
4. Plan Statewide to Integrate Transportation and Land Use
5. Preserve Railroad Corridors

* For more information on Coalition membership and top priorities, please go to:

Mr. Kelly Thayer
Transportation Project Manager
Michigan Land Use Institute

205 South Benzie Boulevard
P.O. Box 500
Beulah, MI 49617

Ph: 231-882-4723
Fax: 231-882-7350
E-mail: kelly@mlui.org
Internet: http://www.mlui.org/