DETROIT, Mich. — It’s no secret that Michigan has some of the worst roads in the country.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is rolling out their plan to fix our highways. They say the plan is made possible through $3.5 billion in bonds allotted to them through Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.
“It’s like spreading the peanut butter, you know we have very little money, so we want to spread it to as many locations as possible,” MDOT Director Paul Ajegba said.
Ajegba says what makes this plan different from years past is the use of this bond money, helping MDOT do more extensive work.
“Adding those bond money to those existing program practically doubled our five-year plan,” Ajegba said.
MDOT will be using $3.5 billion worth of bonds over the next five years, with 49 roads and bridges expected to see construction.
There are some major highways here in metro Detroit benefiting from that bond money, including on I-96 from Kent Lake to Novi Road, where flex lanes will be built to reduce congestion. That project will see $215,500,000.
Another big project, reconstruction of I-275 from Northline Road to Ford Road, will see $177 million in bond money.
However, there are still concerns, particularly from Republican lawmakers, about paying back those bonds.
“When you throw in this bonding and this sort of thing, where is this money going to come from?” said Representative Jack O’Malley.
O’Malley is the chair of the House Transportation Committee, representing Michigan’s 101st district. He is trying to think ahead to how to eventually pay off these bonds.
He does not believe bonding, or the 45-cent gas tax once proposed by Whitmer, are the answers to fixing Michigan roads.
“Nobody in this state wanted a 45-cent gas tax; alright, one could argue she got our attention but she was like a dog with a sock, she wouldn’t let go of the 45 cents. We were like there is no way we can do that and then she shifted to bonding and in between ,there was no discussion,” said O’Malley.
He would like to see more communication between lawmakers and the governor's office. However, Ajegba says without the bonds, the money to fix the roads would have piled up.
“Prolonging fixing our roads cost more in the long run. Right now, the state of Michigan is 46 out of 50 states when it comes to spending per capita, right? These are some of the cases that the governor made, we have got to do this now, or else it gets more and more expensive,” said Ajegba.
O’Malley brought up to other concerns, including fixing local roads and what will happen to the gas tax with the push for electric cars.
Currently, MDOT is taking public comments through February 25. These comments are meant to better help plan projects on the horizon. People can email comments to MDOT-Five-Year-Program@Michigan.gov or mail them to:
Michigan Department of Transportation
Systems Evaluation and Program Development
Unit 425 W. Ottawa St.
P.O. Box 30050
Lansing, MI 48909