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.

Senate Transportation Committee Votes to Eliminate Local Cost Sharing Requirement with MDOT

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 week the Senate transportation committee agreed with the League’s opposition to this provision within Act 51 and unanimously voted to eliminate it.

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.

Transportation Asset Management Council Releases Annual Report

During 2015, the Transportation Asset Management Council (TAMC) rated the pavement condition of the paved federal-aid eligible roads for the twelfth consecutive year. This effort was achieved through a cooperative effort of individuals from county road commissions, city engineering staffs, the Michigan Department of Transportation, regional planning agencies, and metropolitan planning organizations.

In addition, the TAMC also began rating the pavement conditions of non-federal aid eligible
roads as well. Unfortunately, as you will see from data included in the attached report, the
condition of the public roads in the state continues to deteriorate.

The TAMC also reports on the condition of bridges. The data indicates that the condition of
Michigan bridges has stayed flat, but is forecasted to decline in the future. The report contains specific analysis of this information.

You can visit the TAMC website for a copy of the  2015 Annual Report being featured under the “What’s New” selection on the home page by clicking here.

Both the full and mini versions are also available in the About Us section with all previous reports under Annual Reports and can be accessed by clicking 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 Seeks Comments on Rural Transportation Planning Process

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is federally required to reach out to local elected officials in non-metropolitan areas every five years to gauge their involvement and knowledge of the transportation planning process.

They are currently seeking input through a short on-line survey.  Please complete the survey between now and May 31, 2016. To complete the survey please click here.

If you have any questions, please contact Pamela Boyd, Supervisor, Statewide Planning Section at MDOT via email at boydp1@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.

Michigan Leaders Outline Three Local Government Priorities for U.S. Congress

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, speaks to Michigan Municipal League members in Washington D.C. during the NLC Congressional City Conference Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, speaks to Michigan Municipal League members in Washington D.C. during the NLC Congressional City Conference Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

A contingent of Michigan local government leaders were in Washington D.C. today to meet with U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters on legislative priorities for local communities. The three priorities requested were in the areas of municipal bond tax exemptions; marketplace fairness and online sales tax parity; and transportation funding among other issues.

The Michigan contingent in Washington D.C. this week for the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference 2016 was led by League President and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly; and League Vice President and Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. Also attending were about 30 Michigan local government leaders, including Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Fenton Mayor Pro Tem and NLC Board Member Pat Lockwood; League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin and Summer Minnick, the League’s director of external relations and federal affairs.

The group has been meeting with various Congressional offices in the Capitol during their visit.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters meets with members of the Michigan Municipal League in Washington D.C. Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters meets with members of the Michigan Municipal League in Washington D.C. Tuesday, March 8, 2016.

Here are details on the three priorities presented:

  1. Continuing to have municipal bonds be tax exempt. The tax exempt status of municipal bonds is critical to investment in infrastructure and provides tremendous economic growth in our communities. Eliminating that exemption would harm the future development of critical infrastructure projects and the jobs that come with them. The group encourages the Michigan Congressional Delegation to reject any attempt to eliminate or limit the traditional tax exemption for municipal bonds.
  2. Support marketplace fairness and online sales tax parity. Last Congressional session, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act with a vote of 69-27 in a bipartisan manner. This would have allowed state and local governments to collect an estimated $23 billion in online sales taxes, thus ending the online sales tax ‘break.’ However, to great disappointment, the House failed to act before session ended and we are starting over with new legislation this session. Gary Peters and Rosalynn Bliss edited-smallWhile exact estimates vary, Michigan stands to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from purchases that are avoiding the tax today. This session the bill, S. 698, is sponsored by Senator Enzi (R-WY) and has 22 co-sponsors. Within the past few weeks, Congress passed a bill to, among other things, prevent state and local governments from taxing internet access. As part of getting support needed for that bill, we understand that Senate leaders agreed to have a floor debate on the Marketplace Fairness bill later this year. By failing to pass legislation to bring tax equity in the retail industry, we are punishing those who have invested in our communities. Main Street retailers currently operate at a 5-10 percent disadvantage because they are required to collect sales taxes while remote sellers are not. And, we are leaving billions of dollars on the table which could be used to help invest in other areas for economic growth and/or reduce the deficit. Marketplace Fairness simply allows states and local governments to enforce existing sales tax laws. It does not create new taxes or increase existing ones. The Michigan contingent encourages passage of S. 698 for the benefit of our state and local economies.
    League President and Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly and the League's Summer Minnick meet with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.

    League President and Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly and the League’s Summer Minnick meet with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters.

  3. Increase funding for transit and multi-modal transportation. Last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, making the first long-term transportation bill in a decade official. There are some wins for local governments within the new law, which is worth approximately $305 billion. However, while there are many positives with the FAST Act, there are still investment needs in our transportation infrastructure. Our nation must continue to make greater investments in transit and multi-modal transportation in order to be competitive worldwide. The Michigan contingent hopes that in having a conversation about increased investment in transportation that we can focus more on all users of transportation networks and not primarily on vehicle users. While the FAST Act was extremely helpful to local communities by providing some stability in transportation funding, the Michigan leaders request Congress for a long-term mechanism for increased funding must still be debated. Additionally, increasing funds for transit and multi-modal transportation is critical to the future prosperity of our communities.

Posted by Matt Bach, the League’s director of media relations, on behalf of Summer Minnick League’s director of external relations and federal affairs. Summer can be reached at sminnick@mml.org.