Transportation Needs Over $6 Billion

By Aram Kalousdian | September 28, 2010

Michigan will lose millions of federal transportation dollars annually, roads and bridges will crumble at alarming rates, and numerous daily bus, rail and commercial flights will be cancelled unless state policymakers fix the state's transportation funding scheme, according to a report issued recently by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation Funding (CAC), appointed by Governor Granholm earlier this year. According to the report:

  • Michigan will lose an average of $950 million of federal road funds beginning in 2010 because the state is unable to match federal dollars.
  • A total of 23,000 road lane miles will need to be repaired or replaced by 2015, while expected funding will pay for only 876 lane miles (3.8 percent).
  • Inter-city bus routes could be slashed by as much as 50 percent.
  • Commercial flights will be cancelled.
  • Michigan will continue to lose jobs and roads will be more congested because of inefficient freight movement.

The CAC report says that Michigan's roads and bridges will require an estimated annual investment of $6.1 billion — nearly two times the current funding level — for basic improvements to the state's road and bridge system. Without this investment, an additional 30 percent of Michigan roads will decline to poor condition over the next decade. In addition, the state's transit system will need $470 million annually and the aeronautics system will need $120 million to provide necessary improvements to the system.

The CAC also outlined a more ambitious "better" transportation-funding plan for all transportation modes, which provided significant capacity improvements and other needs beyond basic system improvements. The price tag for this scenario was even higher.

"We have a transportation network that is literally crumbling beneath us," said Gretchen Driskell, chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee. "This lack of funding is limiting our public transit options and threatening to make many of our roads and bridges unsafe. The status quo essentially guarantees our transportation system will continue to collapse."

To make matters worse, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) predicts that by 2010 it will no longer be able to provide the required 20-percent local match for a majority of federal road funding available, translating into an average annual loss of $750 million of federal money on the MDOT system. Many local governments and road commissions will also be unable to match those funds, creating an estimated loss of $204 million per year.

In addition to the road and bridge system, the CAC reviewed Michigan's intermodal transportation, freight and aviation funding needs. Reports on these issues showed all aspects of Michigan's transportation system will not keep pace with the needs of Michigan's travelers.

Public transit costs continue to increase 5 to 9 percent per year, the volume of freight moved in Michigan is expected to double by 2035, and the aviation system is expecting to lose an estimated $16 million in federal funding. By doing nothing to increase transportation funding, Michigan's system will continue to deteriorate at an alarming rate. CAC spent four months analyzing the financial needs of Michigan's transportation network. On Monday, they presented their findings to a gubernatorially appointed transportation funding task force. This task force must make recommendations to state policymakers by October 31 on transportation funding options.

The task force and advisory committee were created last year when Governor Granholm signed Senate Bill 59 into law. The report can be found at

"Michigan's quality of life, essential societal assets and future prosperity are impacted by the condition of our transportation infrastructure," Driskell said. "It is imperative that immediate, short and long-term funding corrections are made to enhance transportation revenue. The consequences of inattention are dire."