State leaders look for ways to improve roads, agriculture - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

State leaders look for ways to improve roads, agriculture

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(04/04/14) - There's a big push to come up with other ways to move products around the state.

Some business and government leaders say they don't want to totally rely on trucks to get that job done.

That was the topic of a major meeting in Bay City.

Those who attended agree that a strong transportation network is very important to Michigan's agriculture industry.

A lot of freight moves through Mid-Michigan every day, and a lot of it moves in trucks.

Alternative modes of transportation would help alleviate an ongoing problem in the state.

"Can we keep pounding our roads the way we're pounding them and expect them to get better even once we fix them? And again that's why we have to move our dependents away from truck traffic to different modes of transportation," said state senator Mike Green.

Experts say that without an emphasis on products being shipped by rail, thousands of additional trucks would add to that wear and tear. It would have a huge impact in the Thumb.

"Twenty-two thousand additional trucks on the highway system in particular during planting season, harvest system and that's a huge burden on our transportation infrastructure. Being able to put that on the most effective and efficient way of moving at rail is important to the state of Michigan," said Tim Hoeffner, with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Keeping rail and water options open is especially critical while the state looks for ways to improve the road system.

"The least expensive way to move any of those materials or any of those products is by water, the second least expensive way is by rail. Third, the least expensive or the most expensive is by roads and also the concept of moving more freight off roads and into alternative forms of transportation seems to make sense," said Jim Byrum, with the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

U.S. railroads invested $25 billion this year for infrastructure, training and equipment.

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