Lansing lawmakers hold meeting to discuss fixing Michigan roads - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Lansing lawmakers hold meeting to discuss fixing Michigan roads

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LANSING (WJRT) - (05/20/14) - We've all seen them - rough roads all across Mid-Michigan.

Now, Lansing lawmakers are in serious discussions to find a fix.

The Senate Infrastructure Modernization Committee held a meeting, Tuesday, on the third floor of the Capitol Building.

No decisions was made Tuesday - it's simply a time to talk about what needs to happen.

The committee, chaired by Senator Roger Kahn of Saginaw Township, discussed a package of bills already passed by the House. Tuesday was a chance to see what they like about the bills, and what they think they can improve on.

The House version calls for $450 million in new road funding. but many - including some of the members of this committee - say that is not enough. They say a real fix would take $1.2 billion.

"Roads alone, maybe it's $1.2 billion, but if it's roads and bridges, then it's a bigger number. If it's roads, bridges and mass transit, it's a bigger number yet," Sen. Kahn said.

In a nutshell - here's how they would raise new money for our crumbling roads:

Right now we have a flat gas tax. This plan would shift to a wholesale tax that is a percentage. That would allow for inflation changes.

One of the many people to testify at the hearing Tuesday was MDOT director Kirk Steudle.

We asked if we'd even be talking this seriously about road funding if we didn't have such a rough winter.

"This winter accelerated the deterioration. I don't know if we talked back in January, I said, 'look, this is setting up to be pretty nasty'. About February I said, 'watch out'. I think I can say, 'I told you so' because it was bad," he said.

Steudle brought pictures of why something needs to be done with the roads. They were taken from an overpass along I-75 at the Lodge in Detroit. Tuesday, MDOT inspectors shut it down because of safety concerns. In one of the pictures, you can actually see a hole in the support beam.

As bad as this winter was, Steudle says it could have been worse. Thankfully our spring thaw was slow, not sudden.

Steudle says what you're hearing here Tuesday is the direct result of everyday people being fed up with the conditions are roads are in. He also says the plan of a wholesale tax likely wouldn't be a noticeable difference in the price at the pump, but that could change if prices go up or down.

Tentatively, Wednesday morning, the same committee will meet again to talk about if they need more time to talk about the package of bills - or whether they're ready to move to the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Kahn headed back inside the Capitol Building after he talked to us for new round of meetings. He expects those to continue for several hours.
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