State Rep. Rodney Wakeman of Saginaw Township introduced legislation today as part of a wide-ranging series of proposals giving local governments more flexibility to fund necessary road repairs.
The package of bills, which are separate from ongoing budget negotiations, maintain a commitment to repair Michigan’s infrastructure and will alter state regulations in key areas to give communities a better opportunity to work on roads from driveways to highways.
Wakeman’s plan, House Bill 4965, would ensure that the state no longer constrains counties with certain spending requirements. Currently, local municipalities are required to devote 75 percent of funds to “primary roads,” leaving just 25 percent of funds to go to “local roads.” Wakeman’s plan would provide local governments with more flexibility in deciding how to spend road repair money and what gets fixed.
“A blanket 75/25 rule on primary and local road repair allocation doesn’t work for every community in Michigan,” Wakeman said. “Some communities may have more local roads that need to be repaired than primary roads, but are forced to forgo certain projects because of a burdensome, impractical regulation. We need to provide more flexibility at the local level to make sure the roads in worst shape – whether they are in a neighborhood or a main artery for traffic – are being fixed.”
Under Wakeman’s legislation, local governments would still need to submit their asset management plans – which include road condition data, an outline of performance goals and risk of road failure analysis – to a commission to ensure there is proper oversight.
The bipartisan proposals were created after a series of town halls throughout the state hosted by state Rep. Jack O’Malley, chair of the House Transportation Committee, on the issue of roads in Michigan. Wakeman hosted a town hall with O’Malley in July at a Saginaw Township Fire Station. Residents, local officials and construction representatives have all offered their thoughts on how roads can be built better and smarter, and the input was instrumental in pursuing meaningful reform.
“Instead of talking about massive tax increases like the governor has proposed, we should first be exploring options on how to more efficiently use every dollar we already have,” Wakeman said. “That is my priority, and it has been the clear priority of the many hard-working taxpayers I have listened to.”
The legislation has been referred to the House Transportation Committee for consideration.