Could Michigan get toll roads? State to hire outside consulting firm to determine feasibility

Khairil Azhar Junos /

In an effort to maybe, finally, fix the damn roads (which have been found to be the worst in the country), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed state Senate Bill 517 last week, which gives a green light to the Michigan Department of Transportation to hire an outside consulting firm to see if toll roads would do the damn trick.

The bill, introduced in September 2019 by Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), passed on July 8 and would examine the feasibility of converting some of Michigan's highways into toll roads, as well as examine the economic gains and logistics, such as offering discounts to in-state drivers.

M-DOT's director of communications, Jeff Cranson says the study, as defined by the legislation, could take “up to two years” to complete.

“Tolling is a user fee, and it says that the people who use the roads pay for the roads,” Cranson told Michigan Radio. “And from the standpoint of not having to borrow from the general fund and borrow from other tax resources, it makes sense to fund transportation with user fees.”

In 2019, Whitmer proposed a fuel tax of .45-cents-per gallon that was poised to raise an estimated $2.1 billion for Michigan road repairs, which could have cost the average Michigan motorist upwards of $350 annually had Republicans not quashed it last year. Whitmer later said she wasn't “married” to the fuel tax increas,e but was awaiting better options.

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