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State House Passes $175 Million Spending Bill For Roads

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Lawmakers in Lansing want to put 175 million dollars toward the state’s roads. The state House passed the spending bill Wednesday. Capital correspondent Cheyna Roth has more.

Governor Rick Snyder initially proposed a similar spending bump for the next budget cycle. But lawmakers say the potholes and crumbling roads need to be addressed as soon as possible. They want the money available in time for construction season.

“I think that this is kind of a perfect time for us to say, ‘Hey, we’ll get this money out to you in the communities and the counties. You can plan for your projects. So as soon as you guys start wanting to put a shovel in the ground, you’re ready to go,” said bill sponsor, Representative Laura Cox (R-Livonia).

The bill passed unanimously, but Democrats say this still isn’t enough to make meaningful improvements to the state’s roads.

“Even though this is more money, it’s not enough to really begin to solve the problems of our roads,” said leader of the House Democrats, Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “So roads are actually going to get worse, they’re going to continue to get worse, until this body decides to take a serious look at how we do infrastructure spending here in the state of Michigan.”

The money would send over 38 million dollars to cities and villages across the state. The rest would be distributed county road commissions, who would get about 68.4 million, and state trunkline preservation and next generation technologies and service delivery, who get another 68.4 million dollars. The money that stays within the Department of Transportation would mainly be used for road preservation, with up to 15 million dollars set aside for special projects. One project could be to test the state’s ability to partner with ride share companies for transportation options for the elderly or disabled.

According to the Department of Transportation, it costs an average of 3-point-2 million dollars to reconstruct one lane of one mile of freeway. But when it comes to local roads, it’s cheaper – a non-freeway mile costs about 1.9 million dollars to reconstruct, whereas rehabilitation is about a half million dollars on average. When it comes to rural roads, average reconstruction is about 1.2 million, with a half a million for rehabilitation.

The money used is unspent from a previous budget cycle – so it doesn’t require an increase in taxes. A spokesperson for the Senate Majority Leader says their chamber might take up the bill next week.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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