DETROIT (WXYZ) — Despite the pandemic, there are still plans in place to use $3.5 billion in bonds to fix the roads here in Michigan.
According to Jeff Cranson, Director of Communications with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the first set of bonds is set to be sold in the next few weeks.
“The first $800 million of those bonds will be sold probably in late August or early September,” said Cranson.
These bonds will help fix state owned roads over the next five years as part of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Rebuilding Michigan plan. The major of projects in metro Detroit are set to start in 2021.
Cranson says part of the reason we have not seen faster results on Gov. Whitmer’s campaign promise to fix the roads is the failed 45 cent gas tax proposal.
“She was committed to starting something in 2019, and that is when she had her proposal, that was a very good proposal, that would have made a huge difference on our roads at all levels, but she never got legislative support,” said Cranson.
“There were multiple ideas presented to her, and she kept going back to the 45 cent gas tax,” said Republican State Representative Jason Sheppard from District 56 in Monroe.
Representative Sheppard also sits on the House transportation board. He believes the answer to fixing the roads is restructuring the current six percent gas tax so that all the money goes toward the roads.
“One hundred percent the gas tax shift, all that six percent needs to go to roads, that is kind of the line in the sand for us as a legislature,” said Representative Sheppard.
A similar plan was proposed at the beginning of the year by the Republican controlled house, before the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past, Governor Whitmer has indicated she is not on board with the idea, stating concern over redesigning the gas tax taking away from other parts of the budget, like the School Aid Fund.
“The idea that this should have been done last year I agree with, I think there could have been a compromise that this could have been done last year,” said Representative Sheppard.
Gov. Whitmer’s Office sent 7 Action News the following statement in regards to her promise to fix the roads:
“When Governor Whitmer took office, nobody could’ve anticipated that our state would face a worldwide health crisis in addition to many of the issues that were left over by the previous administration. Despite these challenges, the governor continues to forge ahead on her promise to fix the damn roads through the Rebuilding Michigan plan, which is fixing roads across the state at this very moment. We remain committed to the health and safety of Michiganders, and hope the legislature will come to the table to do the same.”