Michigan bills would aid funding for local roads

December 3, 2020

Keith Goble


Long-term road funding solutions remain elusive at the Michigan statehouse. As talks continue, a two-bill package making its way through the Legislature is touted to help maximize available funds for Michigan local roads.

The first bill, SB518, would create a local federal aid buyout program. The Michigan Department of Transportation would be responsible for purchasing from local road agencies federal-aid highway funds sub-allocated to those agencies.

As a result, all federal transportation funds received by the state would be spent by the Michigan DOT. An exception would be made for funds specifically allocated by the feds for local jurisdictions or funds allocated to local jurisdictions through a competitive process.

Help for local road projects

Advocates say the change would essentially replace federal dollars for local road projects with state dollars.

“With the state handling all federal transportation funds and reporting requirements, local agencies can then focus their resources more efficiently,” Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, said in previous remarks.

The companion bill, SB519, would use state funds to replace the federal dollars directed to MDOT through SB518. Funds would be directed from the state to counties, cities and villages.

Runestad added that the two bills would give local transportation agencies improved flexibility to address pressing road repaving and repairs.

The bills are scheduled for consideration this week in the House Transportation Committee.

Road reporting

A related two-bill package in the House Transportation Committee covers road reporting requirements.

The first bill, SB515, would require MDOT to develop a highway construction inflation index. The index would be used to measure inflation in highway construction costs.

The second bill, SB516, would expand asset management reporting requirements for local and state agencies. Essentially, the roads agency would be responsible for regularly updating its rolling five-year plan. Additionally, the agency would develop a 20-year plan that shows road construction strategy every 10 years.

The Senate already approved the bill package. The bills are not scheduled for consideration in the House Transportation Committee. LL

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