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.

 

Effective Immediately MDOT Prohibits Drone Use Within Their Right-of-Way

In an effort to leverage innovative technologies in a safe and beneficial way for all citizens of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been working with other State of Michigan Agencies to develop policies for appropriate use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations within properties of the State, including MDOT Rights-of-Way. At this time those policies have not been finalized.

Effective immediately, and until further notice, MDOT strictly prohibits the operation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UVA’s) or drones within MDOT’s Right-of-Way by MDOT employees, contractors and/or subcontractors, consultants and/or subconsultants, suppliers, local road authorities’ employees or their agents, and MDOT permit customers. This does not prohibit local road authorities’ employees or their agents use of this technology within their own Right-of-Way.

MDOT acknowledges that responsible use of this technology is promising for many survey, construction and operation data collection and monitoring activities, and is anticipated to provide many safety, efficiency and cost savings benefits. MDOT will be evaluating and establishing safety and operational protocols, along with necessary processes for the appropriate and effective use of this technology through current on-going academic research. The departments number one priority is the establishment of protocols that will ensure the operations of this technology do not present undue risk to motorists, pedestrians, employees, and property within the ROW in the future.

MDOT will continue to coordinate with the League and other industry partners to develop the guidance, advisories and contract language necessary to allow for the controlled use use of this technology within their ROW in the future.

If you have any questions please contact Steve Cook at 517-636-4094 or cooks9@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.

Governor Vetoes Bill Eliminating Local Cost Sharing with MDOT

On Friday morning the Governor vetoed SB 557. This bill would have eliminated the local cost sharing provision for cities over 25,000 on MDOT projects. The League and the bills sponsor, Senator Knollenberg, worked extremely hard to convince the Legislature that fixing this provision within Act 51 was vitally important to the impacted communities. Ultimately both chambers voted unanimously for its passage.

The League is extremely disappointed with the Governor’s decision to veto this legislation. At a time when our communities can’t even afford to maintain their own roads, the Governor has continued the broken model of forcing communities to shoulder the burden of archaic state policy. In his veto letter, please click the link to review SB 557 Veto Letter, the Governor mischaracterizes the negative impact of SB 557 and calls on the Legislature to enact a comprehensive rewrite of ACT 51 by the end of the year. While we support revising the formula, a full rewrite by the end of the year is very unlikely. We are continuing to work with the Senator to determine our next step to create a more fair and equitable road funding solution for all of our communities.

While the League does not agree with the Governor’s decision to veto this legislation, we are very appreciative of the efforts made by Senator Knollenberg who advocated vigorously on behalf our communities and all 146 members of the Legislature who voted in favor of this bill.

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 Soliciting Applications for Local Safety Program Funds

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of new applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2018 general Local Safety Program. Federal funds for the general Local Safety Program are to be used for highway safety improvements on the local roadway system. All locally controlled roadways, regardless of National Functional Classification, are eligible for the Local Safety Program. The FY 2018 federal budget for this program is estimated at $6,000,000.

Local Agencies may submit more than one project application for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency for the fiscal year. FY 2018 projects are to be developed and obligated between October 1, 2017 and August 25, 2018.

Applications are to be electronically submitted or postmarked by Friday, September 23, 2016. For more information please click the following link. FY 2018 HSIP Safety Program Call Letter

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.

Fiscal Year 2018 Federal High Risk Rural Roads Program Accepting Applications

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is pleased to announce the solicitation of applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2018 High Risk Rural Road (HRRR) program. The FY 2018 federal budget for this program is estimated to be $6,000,000.

Local agencies are allowed to submit more than one project for consideration. Federal safety funds shall not exceed $600,000 per project or a maximum amount of $2,000,000 per Local Agency for the fiscal year (including any selected FY 2018 HSIP projects). Any non-selected projects submitted under this HRRR call for projects will be automatically rolled over to the general FY 2018 HSIP safety call for projects. Selected HRRR projects are to be obligated in FY 2018; the Local Agency will not be allowed to delay a selected HRRR to a different fiscal year.

Applications are to by electronically submitted or postmarked by Friday, September 2, 2016. For more information 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.

Bill Eliminating Local Cost Sharing with MDOT Sent to the Governor

Prior to the Legislature breaking for the summer the League was able to secure passage of a significant policy change to Michigan’s transportation funding formula.

Act 51 currently requires that all incorporated cities and villages with a population larger than 25,000 to pay a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s project costs for opening, widening, and improving state trunkline highways within that incorporated city or village. A city or village is required to pay 12.5% of the project cost if their population is greater than 50,000, 11.25% of the project costs if their population is between 40,000 and 50,000, and 8.75% of the project costs if their population is between 25,000 and 40,000. This statute affects 45 cities in Michigan.

SB 557, sponsored by Senator Knollenberg, would eliminate the requirement for incorporated cities and villages greater than 25,000 to cover a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation projects cost. As Michigan works to develop a 21st century transportation network the League believes these 45 cities should no longer be required to subsidize MDOT’s costs for the following reason:

  • All country road agencies and incorporated cities and villages with a population less than 25,000 are not required to pay a portion of MDOT’s project cost creating inequity in the system.
  • The funds used to pay for the cost of these projects comes directly from the 21.8% percent of funding received by cities and villages under Act 51. This results in less than 21.8% of Act 51 funding actually being used on local roads.
  • These matching funds can cost a local road agency a significant portion of their Act 51 funding.
  • Covering these project costs can delay, reduce, or eliminate future rehabilitation or reconstruction projects and significantly hinder a city’s ability to conduct routine maintenance such as snow plowing
  • MDOT’s planning process allocates state spending on projects based on the needs of their system without taking into account a city’s ability to contribute to the cost of those projects as required by Act 51. An unexpected bill from the Department could cripple a city’s local road program for years

This bill received unanimous support in both the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.

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.

Legislation Impacting Speed Limits Passes the House

Prior to leaving for summer break the House passed five bills, HB 4423, 4424, 4425, 4426, and 4427, that would impact speed limits in Michigan

These bills when first introduce would have required that speed limits be set at the 85th percentile of speed. Fundamentally, we believe that all users of the roadway should be taken into account when setting a speed limit. Setting speeds strictly at the 85th percentile completely neglects taking the context of the roadway, the surrounding environment, pedestrian traffic (walking or biking), transit, or the views and needs of the community into account.

After months of negotiations with the sponsor all of the restrictive language was removed. The 85th percentile of speed still needs to be considered when setting speed limits but additional language was added to ensure that engineering and safety studies could be included as a way to adjust speeds for context.

Each community is best suited to understand local conditions that place children, the disabled, seniors and other vulnerable roadway users in harm’s way, and we support our communities efforts and ability to provide a safe and inviting environment. The League supports the changes to the legislation and we will be working hard in the Senate to maintain and preserve local control.

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.