Increased transportation funding provided by Michigan’s legislature in 2015 will allow the state to move forward with numerous projects to repair and improve portions of its transportation system; however, the funding is not sufficient to prevent further deterioration of the state’s roads and bridges or to move forward with $3.3 billion in needed projects, according to a new report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation organization.
The TRIP report, “Modernizing Michigan’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-maintained Roads, Highways and Bridges,” finds that even with the additional transportation funding – which is not guaranteed beginning in 2019 – state pavement and bridge conditions will decline. Traffic fatalities in Michigan increased significantly in the last two years and the state has experienced the 11th highest rate of increase in vehicle miles of travel since 2013.
As a result of the funding increase passed in 2015, state funding for local roads and bridges, state roads and bridges, and transit will increase from $2.2 billion in 2015 to nearly $3.4 billion in 2023. The legislation will provide a total of $4.2 billion in additional funding through 2023, of which $2.3 billion from the state's general fund is not guaranteed and will be distributed at the discretion of the legislature beginning in 2019.
And, despite the recent infusion of funding, Michigan’s state-maintained roads and bridges are expected to continue to deteriorate. The condition of state-maintained roads is projected to deteriorate significantly over the next five years, with the share of lane miles in poor condition increasing from 20 percent in 2016 to 46 percent by 2020. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimates that, based on available funding, the number of state-maintained bridges rated in poor condition will increase by 50 percent between 2016 and 2023.
“This report stresses the critical need of the region to improve its transportation infrastructure,” said Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “As one of our 2017 legislative priorities, the Detroit Regional Chamber is committed to supporting the efforts by federal officials to increase investment in all forms of infrastructure.”
Vehicle travel in Michigan has increased by 10 percent between 2013 and 2016 – the 11th highest rate of travel growth among states during this period. Michigan has also experienced a significant increase in traffic fatalities over the last two years, increasing 20 percent between 2014 and 2016. In 2016 traffic fatalities surpassed 1,000 for the first time since 2007. There were 876 traffic fatalities on Michigan’s roads in 2014, 963 in 2015 and 1,047 in 2016.
“To continue our economic growth, the industries that drive Michigan need a well-maintained and dependable infrastructure network,” said Josh Lunger, director of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “This report shows the significance of the 2015 transportation funding package, and how critical it is that the legislature make these commitments a top priority.”
The following statewide projects are either underway or will be underway or completed by 2020, partly due to increased transportation revenue in the state. The report also lists projects in Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
“This report highlights the critical need to invest more in our transportation infrastructure,” said Tim Daman, president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce (LRCC). “Better roads save drivers money and enhance our economic competitiveness. Thriving cities have infrastructure in place to support business and economic growth. That’s why improving our transportation infrastructure is a top priority for the LRCC.”
“Michigan’s legislature took an important step in 2015 towards improving the condition of the transportation system and setting the state back on the road to economic recovery,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP. “While that was a good start, numerous needed improvements remain unfunded. Adequate investment in Michigan’s transportation system is a critical component in the state’s economic comeback.”