While he was not specific on exactly how to do so, his main message was clear: invest now and save in the long-term.
A much larger conversation, though, is needed. In fact, Governor Snyder has been asking for a statewide discussion on transportation since his transportation address in 2011.
Unfortunately, thus far not much attention has been given in this discussion to Michigan’s transportation picture other than roads and bridges for cars and trucks. Currently over 90 percent of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s annual budget is dedicated to automobile roads and bridges. Additionally, much more money will be needed to follow through an MDOT plan to widen more highways.
As James Bruckbauer explains in his blog post for the Michigan Land Use Institute, Michigan’s transportation infrastructure suffers from a lot more than a bad rash of potholes:
Michigan still trails behind other states that are investing heavily in the infrastructure needed to compete in a global marketplace: quality streets, commuter trains, rapid transit, and first-class passenger rail. Those states take advantage of a mix of funding options from federal, state, and local sources. The Wolverine State’s residents, visitors, and business leaders, meanwhile, still face crumbling roads, congestion, poor transit service, and delays at major airport and train stations.
Michigan’s transportation officials, relying on woefully unstable and dwindling funds from gas taxes, are unable to plan long-term projects or maintain what it already has. In fact, one study that narrowly focused on roads and bridges estimated that Michigan will need another $1.4 billion dollars annually just to keep its roads in adequate condition.
As Governor Snyder himself has said before, better investments in Michigan’s transportation infrastructure will be key to Michigan’s long-term economic success. Last week he followed that up with a few words on our approach, saying, “If we step back for a minute and said, ‘We’re a family. We’re a family of 10 million people.’ And we’re sitting around the kitchen table and we’re saying, ‘What’s right for our future?’” Alright, so let’s talk transportation, Michigan.
Trans4M is holding a video contest – Lights, Camera, Transportation! – that is also a chance for you to tell the governor and your legislators how transportation systems in your community could improve with more complete transportation investments.
Whether your bus is chronically late, you drive your car on two-mile trips that are unsafe by bike, or there is a nearby sidewalk without handicap accessibility – we would like to see it and share it. But don’t just share what does not work, also tell us what IS working. Our state’s decision makers need to know how effective public transit and non-motorized transportation investments could be in Michigan. Show us what your transportation vision looks like. Tell us what is and is not working with transportation in your community, put it on tape, and we will do the leg work of getting it to our elected officials.
For details on how to enter your video submission in the contest and what prizes can be won you can check out Trans4M’s blog post about the contest by Neala Havener here.
We need to make sure that Governor Snyder and our state legislators hear your transportation vision.
By: Dan Sommerville, Transportation for Michigan Fellow