by Scott McClallen
Two lawmakers introduced a bill that aims to provide long-term maintenance for roads.
Republican Reps. Steve Carra of Three Rivers and Gary Eisen of St. Clair Twp. introduced House Bill (HB) 5369, aiming to require long-term contracts for road construction and maintenance.
“Our infrastructure should be designed so it won’t need to be re-repaired only a short time down the road,” Carra said in a statement. “If we only focus on fixing the roads — and not on building them to last — we merely pave the way to mediocrity. Under my plan, contractors will have a vested interest in making and maintaining durable highways.”
Under the bill, when the Michigan Department of Transportation undertakes a new construction or full reconstruction of part of a highway, it may award a contract for designing, building, operating, preserving and maintaining the road. Each contract would continue for at least 10 years after completion of the initial construction project. The plan would stipulate that the lowest compensation for the contractor in any year of the contract must be at least equal to 10% of the highest-paying year of the contract. The bill would specify that a contractor would not be allowed to establish tolling as part of operating the road. Local governments would be authorized, but not required, to make similar contracts for the construction and maintenance of local roads.
The Michigan Department of Transportation hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment about the bill.
“The competitive bidding process brings forward talent and efficiency from the private sector,” Carra said. “While the process isn’t new, my plan will allow us to bring on the road professionals for long-term commitments. Using the private sector and competition to our advantage will create opportunities for savings, fixing our roads better and more responsibly than Gov. Whitmer’s plan to raise taxes.”
Currently, the White House says over 7,300 miles of highway are in “poor condition” in Michigan while it pushes for Pres. Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a five-year plan fueled by $3.5 billion in borrowing that’s actual cost equals roughly $5 billion to fix some trunkline roads, but not many residential roads. Michigan has about 120,000 miles of paved roadway.
HB 5369 was referred to the Committee on Transportation for review.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.