Senate approves road improvement policy reforms

LANSING, Mich. — A multi-bill package spearheaded by Sen. Tom Barrett to make important infrastructure policy reforms in Michigan was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday.

“This reform package is designed to maximize road funding efficiency to ensure we use our tax dollars as effectively as possible,” said Barrett, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “These reforms would improve the ability of our local and state road agencies to better meet our growing infrastructure needs, protect Michigan taxpayers from waste and ensure our roads are built to last.”

Barrett, R-Charlotte, has two bills in the package. Senate Bill 515 would require the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to develop a highway construction inflation index by March 1, 2020 to measure inflation in highway construction costs. SB 516 would extend the requirement for local asset management reports to six years, instead of the current three years, and it would put into law current state reporting requirements, such as MDOT’s five-year plan and long-range plan.

“Transportation infrastructure is expensive, and these reforms would give officials better information about how market forces are impacting costs and improve collaboration between the state and local roads agencies,” Barrett said.

The Senate Republican road policy reforms would also:
• Maximize the use of federal transportation funding that the state receives;
• Improve current road warranty program to provide better value;
• Require MDOT to study the feasibility of tolls on Michigan bridges or roadways; 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.