GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday toured some West Michigan roads that she says will get fixed under her plan to finance road repairs with bonds.
Not everyone is pleased that Whitmer decided to borrow money to fix some of the busiest, most heavily-traveled roads in the state, but she says it was the only way to get the job done after the Legislature didn’t buy into her proposed 45 cent-per-gallon gas tax last year.
Traveling portions of I-196 in Kent and Ottawa counties, Whitmer saw — and felt — firsthand the condition of a road covered by her plan. Parts of I-196 should get a rebuild using the bond money and some of its bridges will get attention, too.
The bond plan is only for state roads and only those that see the most traffic and are in the worst shape. That means a lot of the money will go to the east side of the state and none of it will go to deteriorating local and county roads.
“Last year, I put a plan on the table to address the $2.5 billion crisis that we have in this state,” Whitmer said. “We still have a $2.5 billion crisis. …I’m financing so we can get started on our state trunk lines and state roads. This is going to do nothing for to fix the local bridges and local roads and that’s why it’s incumbent on the Legislature to come to the table with a series plan to solve that.”
Her gas tax would have created new revenue but the Legislature, particularly the Republican-led House, has been more focused on making sure all taxes collected at the pump are being returned to the roads rather than diverted elsewhere. Finding a compromise between the two approaches may prove to be difficult again this year.