ESCANABA - Representatives from the Michigan Department of Transportation met at Bay College in Escanaba Monday night to discuss the 2035 Michigan Transportation Plan and receive comments from the public.
"We have to revise this plan. We have to maintain a 20-year horizon on our transportation planning for the long-range plan," said Vince Bevins, transportation planner for the MDOT Superior Region. "More importantly it gives us an opportunity to look back over the past five years and see what kind of things we're doing and possibly make some modifications..."
The original transportation plan was written in June of 2007, but updates and reviews take place every five years. Monday's meeting was one of 15 open house style meetings across the state to introduce the plan and hear public comment.
The plan identifies 19 corridors of highest significance, which are the transportation routes having the most traffic and designated by being national and international, statewide, regional, or local routes.
"It should be noted that although the corridors of highest significance follow our highway corridors, they also include the rail supports, the major economic centers in the U.P., and those were all selection criteria to choose these corridors," said Bevins. "We have eight corridors in the U.P. alone."
Studies related to the plan have found that 93.2 percent of Michigan's population and 98.7 percent of Michigan's employment base resides within 20 miles of a corridor of highest significance.
"In terms of the revenue streams, the future revenue streams, we're short. I know you all have all been hearing that," said Bevins. In 2012 dollars, over the next 24 years MDOT will be $66.7 billion short of the funding needed to cover projects. Highway preservation alone will be short $23.78 billion.
As part of the plan's revisions, surveys have been given to Michigan residents. Statewide, the public has called for the preservation and maintenance of the existing transportation system, improved public transit, and passenger rail systems between cities. Besides being encouraged to voice their concerns, guests of Monday night's meeting were asked to leave comments. The plan and supporting documentation are available online at www.michgian.gov/slrp. Comments can also be submitted online.