SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – Governor Rick Snyder is laying out his transportation agenda Wednesday during a speech at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, which includes plans to improve the state’s roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, Internet access and regional transit.
Among the proposals is the idea that local communities will have more say on how their road and bridge projects are funded.
Republican Representative Paul Opsommer, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said he would support such a plan.
“I think it’s local control and it allows the voters on a local basis to decide if they want to support transit, in this case, or if they want to support maybe a new kind of road or an expressway,” Opsommer said.
Opsommer said the goal is for the funding to stay within the district.
Snyder is also calling for the elimination of the 19-cent gas tax motorists pay at the pump in favor of a tax on the wholesale price of fuel. (Read more, here.)
Speaking earlier on WWJ, Mike Nystrom, executive Vice President of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association said such a plan is needed for long term growth.
“We can invite those good paying job providers back to Michigan if we lay the foundation,” said Nystrom.
“But if we aren’t investing in ourselves and the bridges and roads are crumbling, it’s hard to envision someone coming to Michigan and saying, boy, I want to move my plant or my business to that state,” he said.
Nystrom believes the state will see an immediate impact as well with the addition of new construction jobs.
WWJ’s Ron Dewey got reaction from local government leaders.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said he is intrigued by the idea of local control for local roads and transit.
“So that means we here in Macomb County have to figure out our own problem by giving us that opportunity, that leverage. I think Macomb County voters will make the right decision because I think they really have an appreciation for, you know, good, safe streets and the quality of transportation here,” Hackel said.
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said local governments cannot be expected to have that burden shifted on to their balance sheets.
“We’re on a very tight budget. I don’t know how we can all of a sudden go and pick up that huge expense without some support from the state,” Patterson said. “The roads are a very expensive part of the state budget. How can we just absorb that on our own.”
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