Gov. Whitmer keeping promises on state roads

Any Yooper who commutes knows all too well how tough our Michigan roads can be, especially in the winter months. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took office, she said she would be steadfast in dealing with this issue, and it appears she intends to keep that promise.

According to an Associated Press article, Whitmer announced Wednesday at her State of the State address that Michigan will borrow $3.5 billion to rebuild the stateís deteriorating highways and bridges over five years, calling it a fiscally responsible move after the Republican-led Legislature rejected her proposed fuel tax hike.

The bonding plan will enable the state Department of Transportation to do about twice as much construction on I-, U.S.- and M-numbered routes as it can now, she said.

Reconstructing, rather than resurfacing, state roads in high-traffic areas with the greatest need and getting to the projects sooner will save about $365 million in the long term, Whitmer told The Associated Press ahead of the speech, because construction costs will be higher as time passes. Pavement would last 25 to 35 years instead of five to seven years, she said. She pointed to low interest rates and noted that state debt payments for old borrowing will drop significantly in coming years.

The second-year governor, who campaigned on fixing the roads, said increasing gasoline and diesel taxes by 45 cents a gallon to raise a net $1.9 billion more annually was ìPlan Aî and would have solved Michiganís road-funding problem. But GOP legislators who rejected that idea last year never countered with a serious alternative and now it is time for ìPlan B,î she said.

ìItís worse because another year has passed. Michigan roads are the most beat up and dangerous in the country,î she told legislators.

We are very pleased to see this issue isnít going by the wayside. If our roadways are in better condition, we can finally spend some of our money on more important things than the constant vehicle repairs weíve become used to.

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The Mining Journal, Marquette