Application for Local Rail Grade Crossing Surface Funds Now Available

The Office of Rail is pleased to introduce a new local grade crossing surface program. In compliance with directives and criteria established as part of the recent transportation funding package, the new program offers 60% funding for crossing surface improvements, with railroads responsible for the remaining 40% of project costs.

A program announcement with additional details was mailed to all road authorities and railroads as of early December 2016. Road agencies are eligible to apply through January 27, 2017. Project selections are expected to be confirmed by early February, with authorizations scheduled to be issued by early April for the 2017 construction season.

Please click here for the application.

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.

Compromise Bill Eliminating Local Cost Sharing with MDOT Sent to the Governor

On July 1, the Governor vetoed SB 557. That bill would have eliminated the local cost sharing provision for cities over 25,000 on MDOT projects. As a result of the veto, Senator Knollenberg, introduced SB 1068 as a starting point to begin working on a compromise.

After months of working with the Senator, MDOT and the Administration, a compromise was reached during lame duck that will eliminate local cost sharing on all limited access freeways. This compromise language will significantly reduce the liability for our largest municipalities and in some cases save them million of dollars.

Although we were disappointed with the Governor’s original veto, we appreciate the willingness of all parties involved to work toward this compromise and are very please with the results. We look forward to the Governor signing this legislation and the positive impact it will have on our communities and their local road networks.

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.

Speed Limit Bills Sent to the Governor

This week the Legislature sent a package of bills to the Governor that would address the way speed limits are set in Michigan. HB 4423 would require the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan State Police (MSP) to increase the speed limits on at least 600 miles of limited access freeway to 75 mph and 900 miles of trunk line highway to 65 mph within a year after the bill’s effective date if certain conditions were met.

HB 4425 would require a local road authority to determine any modified speed limits on a local highway.  A speed limit will now need to be established through a engineering and safety study and by the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under ideal conditions rounded to the nearest multiple of five miles per hour. Local road authorities would be prohibited from establishing and posting a speed limit at less than the 50th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under optimal conditions on the fastest portion of the highway segment where the speed limit was being posted.

The League supported HB 4425 as it met our objective of allowing context to be considered when establishing a speed limit rather than only being able to establish a speed limit at the 85th percentile. This concludes a two and half year discussion on this issue and we expect the governor to sign the bills.

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.

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.

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.

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.