I had the pleasure of hearing Paul Ajegba, Whitmer’s choice to lead the Michigan Department of Transportation, at a recent conference. Ajeba picked up the proverbial gauntlet, with a clear caveat - “we don’t have the money to build it the right way.” He indicated that an additional $1.5 billion in annual funding is required to bring meaningful improvements to our state’s highways and bridges.
This is not a new revelation, following on former Governor Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission’s findings that a Michigan has a $2.2 billion unfunded annual need to maintain and improve its highways, roads, and bridges. This emboldened many to claim that the 2015 road funding legislation wasn’t enough, and Michigan remains in the bottom 10 percent of state spending on roads, per capita.
To its credit, MDOT is doing the best they can with the resources they have, and I have no doubt that this will continue under Director Ajeba’s leadership. Perhaps continuing the recent trend of alternative contracting methods, such as design-build, and design-build-finance-operate-maintain, can help the Department stretch their road dollars even further.
Transportation professionals and the driving public alike are eagerly awaiting details of Governor Whitmer’s road funding plan, our first peek at which may come in her state budget proposal in March.
NTH has been at the forefront of repairing Michigan’s infrastructure for over 50 years, including recent landmark projects like the Gordie Howe International Bridge and Segment 3 of the Modernize I-75 program. If you are interested in reading more about our Infrastructure Market, our services or our Signature Transportation projects, click here.