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What Michigan will do with $175M more in road funding

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Most states have laws to protect the government from liability for potholes and other road defects. However, there is a chance you could be reimbursed if the pothole damages your car.
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LANSING — As potholes threaten to swallow tires and car axles across the state, the Michigan Legislature is poised to pass an additional $175 million in road funding for the upcoming construction season.

The House Appropriations committee voted unanimously Wednesday morning for the road funding, the full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the cash Wednesday afternoon and the Senate is expected to follow suit next week.

“As we all know, the roads are kind of crazy, so time is of the essence,” said Rep. Laura Cox, R-Livonia, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. “We’re proposing to take action now to allow communities time to prepare for the construction season.”

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Under the plan, $38.1 million would be distributed to cities and villages across the state, $68.4 million would be allocated to the state’s 83 counties and another $68.4 million would be used for state trunkline preservation and enhancement projects that would help improve mobility for senior citizens and the disabled as well as projects that will bolster technology in the state’s roads.

With the distribution, Macomb County would get $4.4 million, Oakland County would receive $7 million and Wayne County would get $6.4.

Democrats proposed amendments that would add another $75 million into road improvements by either shifting money from the state’s rainy day fund of bonding for some state projects. But both those amendments failed on party line votes with Republicans opposing and Democrats supporting the additional money.

Lance Binoniemi, vice president for government affairs for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, which represents road construction companies, said there will be no problem gearing up for more orange construction barrels this summer.

“We’re enduring one of the worst pothole seasons in recent memory, so more investment is equally important,” he said. “There have been questions of whether or not the industry can handle more money and more work. We would suggest, absolutely we can. Since 2015, our members have already begun to ramp up, hiring and training new employees and purchasing new equipment.”

Phil Browne, director of municipal affairs for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said no specific projects have been identified for the state trunkline projects, but that they’ll be focused on preservation, rather than reconstruction, of existing roads. The projects would likely begin later in the summer.

Contact Kathleen Gray: 313-223-4430, kgray99@freepress.com or on Twitter @michpoligal.

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