Legislative Update

Local Jobs Today Initiative Would Mean $400 Million for Local Roads

In a major development this week, the Legislature and governor agreed on a plan for the state to provide $80 million to local units of government in order to be eligible for $320 million in federal grants. The plan was able to come together as state policymakers agreed on the governor’s plan in return for restoring some key projects originally vetoed from the 2006 budget.

The goal of the “Local Jobs Today” plan is to speed up actual construction on projects that have already been designed. Eligible projects would have to be under construction or let for bid by September 30, 2007.

Senate Bills 1132 and 1192 were quickly passed by the Senate and are now pending in the House Transportation Committee. Action is expected next week in the House.

The Industry Needs Your Help! 

Let your voice be heard

The state transportation funding initiative received a major boost in late February when the TRIP report announced its findings in a series of statewide press conferences. Almost every major daily newspaper in Michigan ran a story about the “D” letter grade that was given to Michigan roads.

MITA would like to keep the momentum going by having the membership submit letters to the editor to the major newspapers. MITA has created some draft letters that can be personalized or used as a reference when drafting your own letters to the editor.

MITA recommends targeting the following major dailies (e-mail addresses for submitting are also listed for each paper):

Contact The Flint Journal at letters@flintjournal.com

Contact Grand Rapids Press at pulse@grpress.com

Contact Saginaw News at letters@thesaginnews.com

Contact Traverse City Record Eagle at letters@record-eagle.com

Contact Detroit News at letters@detnews.com

Contact Detroit Free Press at letters@freepress.com

Contact Lansing State Journal at mhirten@lsj.com

Contact Kalamazoo Gazette at letters@kalamazoogazette.com

Contact Jackson Citizen Patriot at vop@citpat.com

Contact Macomb Daily at mitch.kehetian@macombdaily.com

Contact Oakland Press at vop@oakpress.com

Contact Midland Daily News at MDNletters@mdn.net

Contact Bay City Times at forum@bc-times.com

Contact Battle Creek Enquirer at ssmith@battlecr.gannette.com

Contact Muskegon Chronicle at dkolb@muskegonchronicle.com

Contact Herald-Palladium at letters@heraldpalladium.com

It is important that you include your name, title (if applicable), organization, address (City, MI) and daytime phone number with the letter to the editor. Some papers call to verify the sender.

We ask that members e-mail Keith Ledbetter at keithledbetter@mi-ita.com to help track any letters being sent to help prevent duplication and ensure we are covering the major media markets.

TRIP Report Response Letters to the Editor

Lansing Region

(122 words)

Dear Editor:

The release of the report card on Michigan roads confirmed what residents in the Lansing area have known for some time — our roads are failing. The “F” grade for roads and the “D-” grade for bridge conditions raise red flags for the safety and efficiency of our region’s transportation system.

Crumbling roads are not only a danger to our citizens, but also to our struggling economy. These roads reflect a lesser quality of life for residents, slower delivery for businesses and potential safety hazards to everyone.

The governor’s Local Match Program is a step in the right direction, but overall transportation funding is still falling dramatically short. The time is now to turn around Lansing’s economy and fix our roads and bridges.

Grand Rapids Region

(126 Words)

Dear Editor:

Michigan’s economy continues to suffer and many wonder how it will recover. The transportation system is a key factor in improving our economy and ensuring continued economic growth in Grand Rapids and its neighboring cities.

The Road Information Program (TRIP) released a report card in February that showed roads in the Grand Rapids metro area are failing. This puts not only our vehicles in danger, but also our economic stability. An efficient and safe transportation system is key to providing residents a good quality of life and providing businesses the system they need to efficiently run their operations.

The Governor’s Local Match Program is a good start, but overall funding of our transportation system is still falling critically short and needs continue to grow each year.

Detroit Region

(140 words)

Dear Editor:

The report card is in on Metro Detroit’s roads and both roads and bridges received an “F” for deteriorating conditions. The TRIP report card confirmed what everyone who has driven in Metro Detroit already knows, but it also raises the question as to what is getting done during “orange barrel” season each year.

Don’t be fooled by all the construction activity. The truth is that many of these projects are simply short-term repairs and maintenance. Michigan has yet to put forth all the funding needed to make long-lasting updates. Even Governor Granholm’s proposed $80 million in local road funding will fall short in meeting our overall needs.

Headaches from road repairs would be a lot less if the proper funding were provided, which would ease non-stop repairs and traffic congestion. Construction projects that provide long-term results are the best solution.

All of Michigan

(143 words)

Dear Editor:

Surely no one was surprised — including our Governor and legislators — when Michigan’s roads and bridges got some of the worst grades in the country in a report released in late February.

Michigan received a bad report card yet again.

The fact is our roads and bridges are in need of a major over-haul. No amount of patching or resurfacing is going to repair dated design, ease growing congestion or provide the economic turnaround that this state needs.

Road funding comes from fuel taxes in Michigan. This tax is per gallon — not a percentage of the sale, as some believe. So as gas prices increase and consumers look for more fuel-efficiency, less and less money actually goes into the transportation fund.

Governor Granholm’s $80 million in local road funding is a step in the right direction, but adequately funding our entire transportation system is still a major need.

MITA will keep you updated on all of these important issues. If you have any questions please contact Mike Nystrom, Vice President of Government and Public Relations at mikenystrom@mi-ita.com or Keith Ledbetter, Director of Legislative Affairs at keithledbetter@mi-ita.com or by calling the MITA office at (517) 347-8336.