10/18/2005Michigan: No New Roads
Michigan's Transportation Director devotes less than six percent of the entire transportation budget to expanding road capacity.
Less than six percent of Michigan's $6 billion road budget between now and 2009 will be used to expand the road network according to a budget submitted by Michigan Transportation Director Gloria Jeff. Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) has backed up this policy by vetoing twenty-five attempts by the legislature to add lanes or build various new roads.
Jeff maintains that the best use for gas tax money is to repair existing roads and expand mass transit, subsidizing the transportation needs of those who do not pay the tax. One of Jeff's major proposals, for example, would extend a light-rail system from downtown Detroit to Ann Arbor. She also believes electronic message boards that warn motorists of traffic problems will relieve congestion.
Census projections suggest the state will grow by 8.6 percent over the next three decades, and some influential members of the legislature believe Jeff's policy is taking the state in the wrong direction.
"This administration needs to realize that in order for Michigan's economy to grow, we need to build roads where people live, work and pay taxes, not where we wish they'd live, work and pay taxes," House Speaker Craig DeRoche (R) told the Detroit News.
Other states such as Virginia have taken a similar approach. Between now and 2009, the largest project by far listed on the state's six-year plan devotes $612 million to mass transit.