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Highway and Road Construction Updates


GRDadof3

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8 hours ago, Raildudes dad said:

No on both. The EB 96 to WB 196 ramp has been laid out but will not be built. The tree removal is for E 96 to the EBL ramp. What was added to the project is the work on EB 196, 3rd lane from Fuller to EB96

Ah I must have misread the earlier post. 

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9 hours ago, Raildudes dad said:

No on both. The EB 96 to WB 196 ramp has been laid out but will not be built. The tree removal is for E 96 to the EBL ramp. What was added to the project is the work on EB 196, 3rd lane from Fuller to EB96

 The fact that they did all the grading and laid it out and there’s no obstructions, seems like the cost would be minimal. Although traffic demands might not really warrant it, definitely would if they would ever add an exit at Knapp Street, Which seems logical and would alleviate east beltline.

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I'm not intending to start a debate on the merits for or against the additional gas tax, but I'm curious about the quote below: would this help or hurt the GR area in getting more road attention?  Would this help GR get some of the highway upgrades that I believe are necessary (3rd lane on I-96 between I-196 and 28th Street, 3rd lane on US-131 N of West River, 2nd lane on M-37 through Caledonia, etc.)?  Or does this mean more money funneled towards Metro Detroit, at the expense of GR? 

"The new revenue would be targeted to the most heavily traveled and "economically significant" roads rather than be divided under a current formula that critics say favors rural areas."

 

https://www.woodtv.com/news/michigan/a-breakdown-of-gov-whitmer-s-budget-plan/1829151276

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11 hours ago, cutlervillegr said:

I'm not intending to start a debate on the merits for or against the additional gas tax, but I'm curious about the quote below: would this help or hurt the GR area in getting more road attention?  Would this help GR get some of the highway upgrades that I believe are necessary (3rd lane on I-96 between I-196 and 28th Street, 3rd lane on US-131 N of West River, 2nd lane on M-37 through Caledonia, etc.)?  Or does this mean more money funneled towards Metro Detroit, at the expense of GR? 

"The new revenue would be targeted to the most heavily traveled and "economically significant" roads rather than be divided under a current formula that critics say favors rural areas."

 

https://www.woodtv.com/news/michigan/a-breakdown-of-gov-whitmer-s-budget-plan/1829151276

I would think so. Maybe everything in purple, brown and red on this map?

https://mdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=e48aa2a7804845c4aee71fd7344db54a

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First: There is nothing wrong with the formula in Act 51, 1/3 MDOT, 1/3 Road Commissions, and 1/3 cities and villages. All 3 categories have been short funded since the last gas tax increase in the 90's. Rural roads and city streets need to be maintained as well.  It's just a money grab by MDOT. It was disturbing to find out that MDOT still has bonds to pay off. 

Second: MDOT has to get out of the idea that if the pavement gets a few cracks it's time to mill off a few inches and repave.  A 1 inch repave will  crack the same year, a 2 inch repave will crack in 2, a 3 inch in 3 years, you get the idea.  Crack sealing the cracks fora few years is a whole lot cheaper, then a chip seal a couple years later can really extend the life of the driving surface. Road Commissions have been doing it for years.

$0.45 over 3 years should allow all  the highway authorities to start to address the capacity needs. I will tell you that after 25 years of insufficient road funding, there is not the staff to design the work or contractors to do the work. These won't get fixed overnight either

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I don't think the gas tax increase is the right way to go. We would have the highest gas tax in the country, and it would be a very temporary solution that's going to have us looking at budget problems with MDOT again in a decade as Electric Vehicles (EVs) (and to a lesser degree, Hydrogen Fuel Vehicles from the trucking industry and Japanese automakers) look to dominate the market sometime within the decade, therefore shifting the tax burden of fixing the roads onto the poor who will be the last to switch to EVs. EVs are going to be coming very quickly at some point fairly soon, especially once they reach price parity with gas vehicles. Especially once EV and Hydrogen-Fuel trucks start rolling out, the state's going to be quickly saying goodbye to fuel tax revenue from the trucking industry, which I imagine is a huge chunk of that fuel tax revenue. The super high tax rate may even result in a stronger and quicker shift towards EVs in the state than in the rest of the country, as people will have more to save by making the switch. MDOT's funding would dry up even worse than it has in the past. Especially if, as Raildudes Dad says, it'll be a slow turnaround in terms of getting staff, making designs, and the like. By the time it comes to start making the upgrades, could be when tax revenue starts dropping. A funding system for MDOT needs to start looking away from gas taxes and towards other sources of revenue.

Basically, this seems as smart to me as trying to fund road improvement budgets in 1910 with a punishingly high tax on horse ownership.

Edited by tSlater
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The tax has to come from somewhere.   I think the roads should be fully funded by users.  That means gas tax, registration etc.   You drive - you pay.   You dont want to  pay the tax..drive less...live closer to your work, etc.   I would not dismiss adding an EV fee of some sort in the future.  Though for other political reasons, I don't believe switching to EV's at a faster rate would be a bad thing (pollution, dependence on oil). 

This could be the highest gas tax, but we also have some of the worst roads in the entire country.   2 cents

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7 minutes ago, JoeSchmo said:

The tax has to come from somewhere.   I think the roads should be fully funded by users.  That means gas tax, registration etc.   You drive - you pay.   You dont want to  pay the tax..drive less...live closer to your work, etc.   I would not dismiss adding an EV fee of some sort in the future.  Though for other political reasons, I don't believe switching to EV's at a faster rate would be a bad thing (pollution, dependence on oil). 

This could be the highest gas tax, but we also have some of the worst roads in the entire country.   2 cents

There's already a drive and pay system in place, and it's already a higher than average tax compared to other states.   I don't know where it's being allocated, but we are currently driving and paying for more than just roads as it is.  From what I understand a chunk of that money intended for roads has been diverted into other programs.  What's to stop them from diverting some of this new money to other areas as well. 

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12 minutes ago, JoeSchmo said:

The tax has to come from somewhere.   I think the roads should be fully funded by users.  That means gas tax, registration etc.   You drive - you pay.   You dont want to  pay the tax..drive less...live closer to your work, etc.   I would not dismiss adding an EV fee of some sort in the future.  Though for other political reasons, I don't believe switching to EV's at a faster rate would be a bad thing (pollution, dependence on oil). 

This could be the highest gas tax, but we also have some of the worst roads in the entire country.   2 cents

My first reaction to reading the proposal was "woof, that is going to make gas really expensive." But then I swallowed hard and admitted that, yeah, if we want to have nice things, we'll have to pay for them somehow, and its going to cost a lot no matter where the revenue comes from.  Then I also realized, that virtually nothing in Whitmer's proposed budget will be adopted by the legislature.  She is putting pressure on them to set for their own alternative ideas for funding our roads.  Will be interesting to see what (if anything) they come up with.

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3 minutes ago, MJLO said:

There's already a drive and pay system in place, and it's already a higher than average tax compared to other states.   I don't know where it's being allocated, but we are currently driving and paying for more than just roads as it is.  From what I understand a chunk of that money intended for roads has been diverted into other programs.  What's to stop them from diverting some of this new money to other areas as well. 

I agree that should be fixed as well.  I believe the proposed gas tax increase, they are removing general fund money to fund roads and would be replaced with this gas tax.  But I am not sure about the other way around.  Gas tax money certainly shouldn't be used to fund the state general fund.

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3 hours ago, tSlater said:

I don't think the gas tax increase is the right way to go. We would have the highest gas tax in the country, and it would be a very temporary solution that's going to have us looking at budget problems with MDOT again in a decade as Electric Vehicles (EVs) (and to a lesser degree, Hydrogen Fuel Vehicles from the trucking industry and Japanese automakers) look to dominate the market sometime within the decade, therefore shifting the tax burden of fixing the roads onto the poor who will be the last to switch to EVs. EVs are going to be coming very quickly at some point fairly soon, especially once they reach price parity with gas vehicles. Especially once EV and Hydrogen-Fuel trucks start rolling out, the state's going to be quickly saying goodbye to fuel tax revenue from the trucking industry, which I imagine is a huge chunk of that fuel tax revenue. The super high tax rate may even result in a stronger and quicker shift towards EVs in the state than in the rest of the country, as people will have more to save by making the switch. MDOT's funding would dry up even worse than it has in the past. Especially if, as Raildudes Dad says, it'll be a slow turnaround in terms of getting staff, making designs, and the like. By the time it comes to start making the upgrades, could be when tax revenue starts dropping. A funding system for MDOT needs to start looking away from gas taxes and towards other sources of revenue.

Basically, this seems as smart to me as trying to fund road improvement budgets in 1910 with a punishingly high tax on horse ownership.

In the long run when we are all whizzing around in electric cars you are right.  Despite all the buzz about the coming future of electric vehicles, the fact is almost all the current new models continue to be bigger and bigger personal use trucks and SUVs and the domestic auto companies are almost eliminating more efficient sedans and compact vehicles.  There was a news article just yesterday about how in the past year fuel mileage has hardly improved despite more efficient engines and a few more electric vehicles on the road because the vast majority of people are buying bigger gas burning vehicles.

Since vehicles last around twenty years, even if electric vehicles started to become popular and available in large numbers in say 2020, it will take a very long time for them to replace gasoline fueled vehicles unless there are large dis-incentives to buying and using gas vehicles (like for example a high gas tax.)

The reason the auto companies are shifting their resources towards electric vehicles is because of the Chinese, not because of U.S. demand.  GM currently sells more vehicles in China than in America.  The Chinese government is pushing electric vehicles, both for environmental reasons and so they will be expert on the technology.  They have imposed a massive tax on new gasoline vehicles and no tax on new electric vehicles.

Passing a higher gas tax will be hard enough.  I fear if any other type of state tax is proposed for raising revenue for roads, it will get bogged down in endless debate given the current political climate.  Whitmer’s proposal is pretty much a copy of the proposal by a non-partisan committee made up of an equal number of former state legislators from both parties.  I think the time to start looking at alternatives to the gas tax is when we start actually seeing a topping off of gasoline sales. 
 

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15 minutes ago, MJLO said:

There's already a drive and pay system in place, and it's already a higher than average tax compared to other states.   I don't know where it's being allocated, but we are currently driving and paying for more than just roads as it is.  From what I understand a chunk of that money intended for roads has been diverted into other programs.  What's to stop them from diverting some of this new money to other areas as well. 

The reason ours is considered high is that we also collect sales tax on our gas. The sales tax money goes to the general fund.

Personally I like the idea of the gas tax. It hits two birds with one stone, fixing our infrastructure as well as encouraging EV use. I understand that it is, however, a regressive tax, so I also like a registration tax that is higher on newer vehicles, we could copy the system that MA uses. Also, I think a lot of people overlook that Whitmer proposed doubling the earned income credit to offset the gas tax on lower income households.

Edited by Kinkema
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We already have an EV surcharge. I'd like to see that repealed (though I have a selfish reason for that—it'd save me some money on our PHEV minivan registration renewal). It really comes down to what taxes are intended to accomplish: solely to raise money, or also to influence behavior? Of course, it's really impossible to avoid influencing behavior, so we need to decide what sort of behavior we want to incentivize. I see increased EV adoption as a benefit, even if it does force us to come up with more creative road funding schemes down the road (I think EVs will remain a niche enough market segment in Michigan that we can wait until the next round of road funding battles). And gas consumption has other externalized costs—CO2, affects on public health, etc.—that we should be addressing.

Yes, an increase to the gas tax will be harder for poor people to avoid. But that's true of just about any tax: wealthy people are more able to adapt to avoid a higher tax burden, whether that's by purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle, setting up a living trust to avoid probate costs, offshore bank accounts... Doubling the EITC is a good start, but we could do more to make our tax structure more equitable, in general.

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7 hours ago, discgrab21 said:

My first reaction to reading the proposal was "woof, that is going to make gas really expensive." But then I swallowed hard and admitted that, yeah, if we want to have nice things, we'll have to pay for them somehow, and its going to cost a lot no matter where the revenue comes from. 

Discgrab21 has got it correct. You want major improvements like extra lanes on the freeways,  new ramps etc. they have to be paid for.

Also keep in mind MI has one of the highest tax on fuel because of the sales tax on fuel which goes to the general fund.  12-18 cents on  $2-$3 fuel. I am not aware of any diversions to the general fund from the actual fuel tax.  There are things like  SOS gets $$ for collecting registration fees and and DEQ $$ for processing Act 51 agency DEQ permits but these have been in place for many years and are not big amounts

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9 hours ago, walker said:

In the long run when we are all whizzing around in electric cars you are right.  Despite all the buzz about the coming future of electric vehicles, the fact is almost all the current new models continue to be bigger and bigger personal use trucks and SUVs and the domestic auto companies are almost eliminating more efficient sedans and compact vehicles.  There was a news article just yesterday about how in the past year fuel mileage has hardly improved despite more efficient engines and a few more electric vehicles on the road because the vast majority of people are buying bigger gas burning vehicles.

Since vehicles last around twenty years, even if electric vehicles started to become popular and available in large numbers in say 2020, it will take a very long time for them to replace gasoline fueled vehicles unless there are large dis-incentives to buying and using gas vehicles (like for example a high gas tax.)

The reason the auto companies are shifting their resources towards electric vehicles is because of the Chinese, not because of U.S. demand.  GM currently sells more vehicles in China than in America.  The Chinese government is pushing electric vehicles, both for environmental reasons and so they will be expert on the technology.  They have imposed a massive tax on new gasoline vehicles and no tax on new electric vehicles.

Passing a higher gas tax will be hard enough.  I fear if any other type of state tax is proposed for raising revenue for roads, it will get bogged down in endless debate given the current political climate.  Whitmer’s proposal is pretty much a copy of the proposal by a non-partisan committee made up of an equal number of former state legislators from both parties.  I think the time to start looking at alternatives to the gas tax is when we start actually seeing a topping off of gasoline sales. 
 

I talked with a  Republican legislator friend today and the mood in Lansing is optimistic that new funding will be figured out for roads. It won't be the big bogged down fight from 2016/2017, because everyone agrees that these priorities are "underfunded" currently. It's highly doubtful that a $.45 gas tax will pass though. I still think a 1 cent sales tax increase mixed with some kind of gas tax increase would be good. And should sales tax charged on gas sales go to roads? Right now, like all sales tax, it goes to the general fund. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you're FB friends with me you've probably already seen this post, but as a reminder, starting a week from Monday:
 

And so it begins, April Fool's Day.

Hit #1) "From April 1 through Aug. 30, westbound I-196 will be closed over the Grand River near US-131 for widening and deck replacement. During this time, westbound I-196 will not have access to US-131 and one lane will remain open with access to Fuller, College and Ottawa avenues."

In other words, if you travel from anywhere East of GR via highway to West of GR or downtown, settle into a new routine for 5 months. i.e. be prepared to go up I-96 to 131 and back down to I-196/downtown. Or take M-6. Or back-streets. Or quit your job and find one in Cascade. Or move to Hudsonville.

Hit #2) "In early June, eastbound I-96 will be closed at Leonard Street for approximately five months while the existing westbound I-196 bridge over eastbound I-96 is removed and the new eastbound I-96 bridge is completed. Traffic will be detoured onto southbound US-131 to eastbound I-196."

"The East Beltline Avenue ramps to I-96 and the Leonard Street ramp to eastbound I-96 will be closed throughout the project."

https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616,7-151-9621_11008-480166--,00.html?fbclid=IwAR2SLRPxxDgAZwN_H62RiE6PYs10IHoZrZ7s8UxVqd30qMemypSUYPVPqAU

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It's not just widening the 196 bridge over the Grand River. They are proposing to add a ramp from Division to the existing Ionia ramp to WB 196. At least they hope to do these projects simultaneously instead of completing one huge project, opening the highway for a month and then close it down again for the next project.

https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2019/02/187m-proposal-would-add-on-ramp-to-i-196-in-grand-rapids.html

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