Senate approves MacDonald bill to maximize road funding

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Tuesday approved Sen. Michael D. MacDonald’s legislation to help reduce local road funding red tape as part of a multi-bill road policy reform package.

“By allowing local road agencies to swap federal funds for state funds, we can maximize our road funding and local agencies could save up to 30% on their projects,” said MacDonald, R-Macomb Township. “Federal transportation dollars often come with strings attached. The burdensome requirements can cost local agencies a substantial amount of time and money — resources that would better be used fixing the roads.”

Senate Bill 518, sponsored by Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, would allow local road agencies to swap some of the federal funds allocated to that local road agency with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in exchange for state funds.

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.

The Senate Republican road policy reforms would also:
• Improve the current road warranty program to provide better value;
• Require MDOT to study the feasibility of tolls on Michigan bridges or roadways;
• 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; and
• Establish a local road agency grant program to assist local agencies in funding technical engineering assistance.

SBs 515-520 and 522 now head to the House for Representatives for consideration.