Governor Gretchen Whitmer has two major battles on her hands concerning her road fix package.
She is not only fighting to preserve her 45-cents-a-gallon gas tax hike, but now county road commissions are telling her, too much of the money is going to the state.
Tim Skubick: “There is a fear in this organization that DOT is going to get the bulk of that money and you guys will get squat?
Dennis Kolar, Oakland Co. Road Commission: “Right. You’re absolutely right.”
The folks who buy snowplow and dump trucks were in town this week from the County Road Association and, to be sure, they love the governor’s proposal to raise $2.5 billion for the roads.
They don’t care where she gets that money.
“I don’t think we care where it comes from, just get to the dollar amount,” said Denise Donohue of the County Road Association-Michigan.
However, the governor wants to divert 70 percent of the new money into state coffers aimed at populated and congested areas of the state.
“Why do we continue to use a formula that is 68 years old?, asked the governor. “We need to fix those most heavily traveled roads that have the most damage.”
And county road commissioners believe she’s got that wrong.
“It’s a little misguided to try to channel all the money toward heavily populated areas,” said Christopher Bolt of the Jackson County Road Commission. “Arguably the needs are greater there with traffic congestion but it has to be a carefully proportioned and evaluated system to have a wise public policy.”
The road commissioners argue, freeways are important to maintain but, on a daily basis, motorists are more concerned about detonating local roads.
“I would think the average driver would have some severe concerns if we did a large increase like this and I still have to get to my house six times a day,” said Donohue. “That’s important to citizens of Michigan.”
Outstate Michigan road director David Pettersch believes even his urban colleges want to stick with the old Act 51 formula and reject the governor’s new approach.
He explains, “you’ve got counties with urban areas that support Act 51 and the rural northern areas like myself support the distribution that has worked for the last 70 years.”
Apparently the governor does not agree.