21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report Released

Today the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission released a 188-page report on improving Michigan’s infrastructure and strengthening our economy. The reports Vision Statement is as follows: Michigan will lead the nation in creating a 21st Century infrastructure system that will include innovative technology, sustainable funding solutions, sound economic principals and integrated asset management and investment approach that will enhance Michiganders’ quality of life and build strong communities for the future.

The report highlights that a 21st Century Michigan is one where the state’s infrastructure system supports economic prosperity, promotes a healthy environment, provides reliable and high quality services and ensure we get the most value from limited financial resources. To maintain Michigan’s status as a global leader the report suggest that we must look at infrastructure in an integrated and holistic way. This means further promoting asset management, coordinated planning, sustainable funding and emerging technologies.

Recommendations within the report are focused in four key areas: Water, Transportation, Energy and Communications. In each of these categories there are many issue that impact our communities. A few key recommendations within this reports are continued investment in green infrastructure, rightsizing our roadways with a focus on placemaking, offering more robust nonmotorized transportation options and investment in transit across Michigan.

The bottom line is that this will cost money. The report indicates that Michigan will need an additional $4 billion per year, and $60 billion over the next 20 years, to meets the needs of our transportation, water, energy and communication infrastructure. A mix of sources will be relied on for these funding increases including federal, state and local funding, user fees and private investment. An important takeaway is that the report suggests giving more authority to locals to raise the funds necessary to maintain their infrastructure. Some of the suggestions offered are a local gas tax, local registration fee, local sales tax or impact fees from land developments that burden road systems.

The 21st Century Infrastructure Reports was designed to identify the scope of the problem and offer a menu of options to solve that problem. There is no question that the need for further investment exists, and the desire of the Governor and the Commissioners that put this report together is to begin working on those solutions immediately.

For the Executive Summary click here, for the full report click here.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Local Rail Grade Crossing Surface Funds

A new funding source, sought by Michigan railroads, is available beginning winter 2017 to local road agencies for improving rail grade crossing surfaces on roads under the jurisdiction of the county road agency/department, cities or villages. Projects utilizing
the Local Grade Crossing Surface Account will be 60 percent covered by the account, with the remaining 40 percent being funded by the railroad company.

The legislative intent of this Act 51 carve-out is to provide financial assistance for railroads to improve crossings on active rail lines.In 2017, $3 million will be made available for local rail grade crossing projects.

Eligibility: Eligible projects are limited to crossing repair work that is normally the responsibility of the railroad in accordance with PA 354 of 1993.

How to Prepare:  Get an estimate for improving the crossing from the railroad company responsible for it. Be sure they agree to pay 40 percent of the overall project. Make sure ADTs (average daily traffic) are accurate and up to date.

How to Submit: MDOT’s new application will be available in December 2016. The form will look similar to the application used on the warning device safety improvement program. It will be a simple one-page form, and will be released with submission instructions.

Timeframe: Once the estimated one-month submission window closes, local road agencies can expect to hear about applications within a month. MDOT expects to
authorize projects 4-8 weeks after project selections are made.

Projects are Prioritized Based on:

  1. Validated vehicular traffic volume (ADT);
  2. Relative surface condition (RSC);
  3. Ability of local agency and railroad to coordinate repairs with adjacent road work: and
  4. The availability of funding

Projects will be ranked by ADT and RSC. After the top candidate in both categories within each MDOT Region has been selected, the next-in-line projects statewide will be funded until applications or annual budget is exhausted.

Please click on the following link for the Michigan Railroads Association Surface Grade Crossing Railroad Contact list. click-here

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Senate Eliminates Local Control over Transportation Network Companies and Taxi Carriers

File illustration picture showing the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi signIn a move to place Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, limousines and taxi carriers, all under one regulatory framework, the Senate passed HB 4637 by a vote of 31-4. In doing so, the Legislature stripped all local control municipalities currently have over taxi carriers. Regulation of these entities will now be handled by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory affair.

Under this new regulatory framework each entity is required to register with the department, complete a vehicle safety inspection if the vehicle is 5 years old or older, post proper signage on the vehicle, ensure each driver has passed a criminal background check and obtained proper insurance.

Municipalities will only be allowed to enforce certain provisions of this act by issuing civil infractions if the vehicles fail to display the proper signage, the driver doesn’t have proper insurance, if a TNC attempts to solicit a passage through a method other than their digital platform, or if a driver fails to provided a ride to an individual due to discrimination.

The League testified in opposition to the elimination of local control citing several concerns about public safety and the ability for the department to adequately enforce the new provisions within this bill. Amendments to protect a communities ability to stipulate hours of operation, and the location and operation of taxi stands were defeated. Senator Hertel was able to secure an amendment on behalf of the League to ensure taxi authorities created before this act will be able to remain in operation for a period of 4 years.

This bill has been returned to the House where it is anticipated they will concur in the Senate changes and send the bill to the Governor for his signature. We also anticipate that the Governor will sign this legislation.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Flint Water Crisis Report Released

Senator Jim Stamas, chairman of the Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Emergency, on Wednesday announced the release of the committee’s report.

“After many months of work and discussions, I am pleased to release a bipartisan, bicameral report of the joint committee,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The report contains more than 30 policy proposals based on testimony and a comprehensive review of materials presented to the committee.”

The Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Emergency met six times and took more than 18 hours of testimony from more than 60 participants. In addition to hearings in Lansing, the committee traveled to Flint to hear from residents affected by the water crisis.

The committee heard from officials from the Office of the Auditor General; members of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force; the directors of the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services; representatives of the Genesee County Health Department, Flint Water Treatment Plant and Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association; and various government officials and residents from Flint.

For a copy of the Flint Water Crisis Report please click here.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Initial Discussions Begin on Act 51 Changes

In the Governor’s veto letter of SB 557, which would have eliminated the cost sharing for road projects that 45 cities pay to MDOT, he stated that we should not take a piecemeal approach to revising ACT 51 but instead we should consider wholesale revisions. We agree with the Governor that this is an archaic and complicated formula and that we must tackle the complexities and nuances it contains. A formula that better recognizes our costs, drives resources to already existing infrastructure, and meets the demands of a 21st century workforce is imperative to creating the types of communities we advocate for every day.

A preliminary step was taken at the end of September when Senate Republicans granted a request by MDOT to present to their caucus a very basic framework of what they thought a new formula could look like. While a few specifics were included in the framework, there are no numbers available on how their proposal would affect individual communities. We recently met with Director Steudle and he stated that they still need to gathered a tremendous amount of input from both legislators and local road agencies before any legislative action would take place. We have also confirmed that this is only a preliminary step and that a complete overhaul of Act 51 will not happen during lame duck.

The Detroit Free Press recently ran an article explaining some of the changes that MDOT has proposed in their draft plan. In our discussions with the Director, he reinforced that this is only a starting point and that they are flexible and open to negotiating the specifics on many of the items they have proposed. You can read the article by clicking here.

The League is committed to protecting a community’s ability to maintain their infrastructure and will oppose any plan that would put any further stress on their budgets, which are already stretched thin. We will be prepared to have a robust conversation on how we think that formula should look, and have information to support those arguments. We look forward to continuing this conversation and will continue to advocate for a formula that supports a transportation network for 21st century communities.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State and Federal Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Senate Judiciary Passes Bicyclist Protection Bills

Senate Judiciary committee recently passed several pieces of legislation that will help protect the rights of a bicyclist and other non-motorized users of the roadway. This is an important step forward as more and more focus is place on creating communities that support all modes of transportation.

Two bills passed out of committee the League supported, SB 1029 and 1030. They would amend the Michigan Vehicle Code to prescribe misdemeanor and felony penalties for committing a moving violation causing injury to or the death of a vulnerable roadway user. A vulnerable roadway user is defined as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or wheelchair user.

Additional bills were passed out of committee that would require driver’s training to include three hours of instruction on safety for bicycles and require motor vehicle operators  to maintain a 5-foot distance when passing a bicyclist on the roadway.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Autonomous Vehicle Bills Await Vote on House Floor

A four-bill package, SB 995, 996, 997 and 998, designed to authorize the testing of autonomous vehicle research in Michigan passed House committee and is awaiting action on the House floor.

One of the main focuses of the bill is to position Michigan as a world leader in the development and deployment of AV technology and to have a regulatory framework in which that can take place. The bills also for the development of a Mobility Research Center at the old Willow Run Airport in Washtenaw County, and creates the Michigan Council on Future Mobility within the Michigan Department of Transportation. Local government interests will be represented on that council.

The League has been actively engaged in this legislation and is supportive of the advancement of this technology. One specific concern that we had was how this would impact our ability to regulate the placement of poles in our rights-of-way. We were able to secure an amendment that specifically protects local authority over communications networks and facilities.

We anticipate passage of this legislation before the end of the year.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

Upcoming Rural Task Force Training

As a reminder, if you have not already registered for the Rural Task Force training there is still time.  The Lansing session is close to capacity and there is still space available at the other three locations.  If you are interested in attending, please submit a registration-form to Betsy Simon at simonb5@michigan.gov.

The dates and locations are as follows:

  • October 18:  Gaylord, University Center, 80 Livingston Blvd, Gaylord 49735
  • October 20:  Marquette, Holiday Inn, 1951 US 41 West, Marquette 49855
  • October 24:  Lansing, Horatio Earl Training Center, 7575 Crowner Dr., Dimondale, MI 48821
  • October 26:  Flint, Flint Mass Transit Administration and Training Facility, 1401 South Dort Highway, Flint 48503

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS:

A block of rooms at state rates have been reserved the night before for each location.  You will need to contact the hotel and make your own reservation.  The block of rooms will be available up to one month prior to the training.  Specific information for each is listed below:

  • Gaylord: Baymont Inn, 510 S Wisconsin Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735 Phone: (989) 731-6331. Use Group ID# 1017RT
  • Marquette, Holiday Inn, 1951 US 41 West, Marquette 49855, (906) 225-1351. Let them know you are with MDOT Rural Task Force training
  • Lansing, SpringHill Suite, 111 South Marketplace Boulevard, Lansing 48917, (517) 627-0002. Use this link:  Book your group rate for MDOT Rural Task Force Training
  • Flint, Holiday Inn Express, 1150 Robert T. Longway, Flint 48503, (810) 238-7744. Use Group:  MDT

There is still the opportunity to participate in the Lansing session via webinar.  If you are interested please check the webinar line on the registration form and make sure to include your email address.  Information for joining the webinar will be provided in a later email.

Also, if you have any specific questions you would like addressed or any issues or concerns you would like included in the presentation, please submit them through this survey monkey link.

If you have any questions, please contact Andy Brush (brusha@michigan.gov) or Betsy Simon (simonb5@michigan.gov).

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

Nominate an Individual or Organization for a Michigan Traffic Safety Award

Each year the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) presents awards for traffic safety in Michigan. Award nominations must be received by November 4, 2016. The GTSAC was formed by an Executive Order of the Governor in 2002 to identify traffic safety challenges and develop, promote, and implement strategies to address them. Awards will be presented in the following categories.

Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement Award: Award winners will be individuals or organizations whose contributions during 2014-2016 are judged to stand above others in the state. Nominations must include a well-defined problem and present clear and measurable results.

Richard H. Austin Long-Term Traffic Safety Achievement Award: Award winners will be individuals or organizations judged to best represent “the spirit of traffic safety” through a sustained, long-term contribution (10 years or longer) and commitment to traffic safety in Michigan.

Student Award: The GTSAC will recognize a high school of college student engaged in a traffic safety program.

Nominations must be received on or before November 4, 2016, at the address listed on the nomination form. Entries received after this date will not be considered. Questions may be directed to Ms. Janet Hengesbach Bawol at 517-284-3066 or hengesbachj2@michigan.gov. For an electronic version of the nomination form please click here.

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.

 

MDOT to Offer Free Rural Task Force Training

On behalf of the Rural Task Force Oversight Board and the Education Subcommittee, MDOT is pleased to bring you a free, one-day Rural Task Force training event.  The training will be held in four locations throughout the state.  Also, if you have any specific questions you would like addressed or any issues or concerns you would like included in the presentation, please submit them through this Survey Monkey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LG29VYP.

The dates and locations are as follows:

  • October 18:  Gaylord, University Center, 80 Livingston Blvd, Gaylord 49735
  • October 20:  Marquette, Holiday Inn, 1951 US 41 West, Marquette 49855
  • October 24:  Lansing, Horatio Earl Training Center, 7575 Crowner Dr., Dimondale, MI 48821
  • October 26:  Flint, Flint Mass Transit Administration and Training Facility, 1401 South Dort Highway, Flint 48503

HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS:

A block of rooms at state rates have been reserved the night before for each location.  You will need to contact the hotel and make your own reservation.  The block of rooms will be available up to one month prior to the training.  Specific information for each is listed below:

  • Gaylord: Baymont Inn, 510 S Wisconsin Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735 Phone: (989) 731-6331. Use Group ID# 1017RT
  • Marquette, Holiday Inn, 1951 US 41 West, Marquette 49855, (906) 225-1351. Let them know you are with MDOT Rural Task Force training
  • Lansing, SpringHill Suite, 111 South Marketplace Boulevard, Lansing 48917, (517) 627-0002. Use this link:  Book your group rate for MDOT Rural Task Force Training
  • Flint, Holiday Inn Express, 1150 Robert T. Longway, Flint 48503, (810) 238-7744. Use Group:  MDT

REGISTRATION:

Please click on the following links for the Registration Form and Agenda

You should fill out one form per person.  Space may be limited based on the locations.  We will fill the space by first come first serve with priority given to the public sector.  We may need to limit participation to only one person per agency.  Continental breakfast, coffee and lunch will be provided.

There will also be an opportunity to participate in the Lansing session via webinar.  If you are interested please check the webinar line on the registration form and make sure to include your email address.  Information for joining the webinar will be provided in a later email.

If you have any questions, please contact Andy Brush (brusha@michigan.gov) or Betsy Simon (simonb5@michigan.gov).

John LaMacchia is the Assistant Director of State Affairs for the League handling transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment issues. He can be reached at jlamacchia@mml.org or 517-908-0303.