MacDonald bill would maximize road funding

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Michael D. MacDonald on Thursday introduced legislation to reduce local road funding red tape as part of a 10-bill road policy reform package.

“Federal transportation funds come with burdensome administrative requirements that can cost local road agencies a substantial amount of time and money,” said MacDonald, R-Macomb Township. “However, the state can meet these demands at a much lower cost to taxpayers. By having the state handle all federal transportation funds, we can maximize our road funding and allow local agencies to focus more of their resources on fixing the roads.”

Senate Bill 518, sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, would require all federal funds received by the state to be spent at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), except funds specifically allocated at the federal level for local jurisdictions or funds allocated to local jurisdictions through a competitive process.

MacDonald’s bill, SB 519, would use state funds to replace the federal dollars directed to MDOT under SB 518 — directing funds from the State Trunkline Fund to counties, cities, and villages.

MDOT estimates that local road agencies see an estimated 20% to 30% cost increase by meeting federal standards, such as bidding requirements and reporting.

The Senate Republican road policy reforms would also:
• Require the state to increase transparency about individual road projects;
• Improve our current road warranty program to provide better value;
• Require MDOT to study the feasibility of tolls on Michigan bridges or roadways;
• Establish a local road agency advocate to assist with developing plans to comply with federal and state requirements and permitting;
• Improve collaboration between the state and local roads agencies by extending local asset management horizons and ensuring MDOT continues to supply long-range plans;
• Require MDOT to develop a road construction inflation index to measure changes in cost within the highway construction industry annually;
• Take steps to stop abuse of farming and logging vehicle registrations; and
• Require local units of government, when adding new roads to their system or planning new infrastructure, to include how maintenance will be paid for.

“This is a road policy reform package aimed at maximizing road funding efficiency,” said Sen. Tom Barrett, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “These reforms resulted from several workgroup meetings this summer and are about improving policies so that local and state agencies can better meet our road infrastructure needs.”