Senate roads policy reforms aimed at improving efficiency

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Tom Barrett on Thursday introduced legislation as part of a 10-bill package to make important infrastructure policy reforms in Michigan.

“This is a road policy reform package aimed at maximizing road funding efficiency,” said Barrett, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “These reforms resulted from several workgroup meetings this summer and are about improving policies so that local and state agencies can better meet our road infrastructure needs.”

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. MDOT would be able to contract with a third party to develop the index, which would need to be approved by the State Transportation Commission.

“Many local road agencies have claimed that the cost of road construction has increased dramatically as the state boosted road funding over the last four years,” Barrett said. “Transportation infrastructure is expensive, and this reform would give the state better information about how market forces are impacting 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.

“This is about maintaining and improving 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;
• Require the state to increase transparency about individual road projects;
• Improve our current road warranty program to provide better value;
• Require MDOT to study the feasibility of tolls on Michigan bridges or roadways;
• Establish a local road agency advocate to assist with developing plans to comply with federal and state requirements and permitting;
• Take steps to stop abuse of farming and logging vehicle registrations; and
• Require local units of government, when adding new roads to their system or planning new infrastructure, to include how maintenance will be paid for.