Legislative committee takes ‘Building Roads 101’

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Work on the budget continues in Lansing, but little can be finalized until the governor’s proposed gas tax hike is dealt with. One committee involved launched a deep dive on the roads before deciding on the tax.

Since the moment Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revealed in March that her plan for “fixing the damn roads” was increasing the fuel tax 45 cents by the end of 2020, the plan has been the focal point of discussion at the state Capitol.

Now in the House Transportation Committee, state representatives are trying to figure out just how roads are built so they can understand how to pay for them.

“Over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at topics in regards to … ‘Building Roads 101.’ How do we do it?” committee Chair Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, said Tuesday. “Everybody’s asking the same questions and there are these nuggets of truth. They’re not wrong, they’re just not completely right.”

Bad materials, lax warranties and heavy trucks are among the reasons representatives’ constituents believe the roads are bad. A group of civil engineers, whose job it is to design roads, disagrees on all counts. From experts’ perspective, it’s a lack of road funding and maintenance.

The committee will hear from those experts over a period of weeks to try to learn if there is a more effective way to attack the problem.

“Maybe this committee could come up with some good policy and potential statutes that helps save money or be smarter about how we do things,” O’Malley said.

The committee will add at least one meeting a week for the next five weeks to get more background on how roads are built and how it could be done better.

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