Agriculture is dependent on a sound transportation system to move materials and products to and from farm and market.
Michigan Farm Bureau recognizes the importance of the state and local road network to agriculture. Investment in infrastructure, such as highways and airports, can be directly linked to growth in business and economy. Improving Michigan’s transportation system will create jobs, attract business and strengthen our economy.
Michigan’s road and highway maintenance budgets have regularly seen funding shortfalls over the last several years despite legislative efforts in 2015, and these funding deficiencies are growing due to rising maintenance costs coupled with increases in automotive fuel economy. MFB believes having adequate road funding should remain a high priority for the state. We believe state and local road agencies should be adequately funded so they are able to properly fund routine maintenance and ensure safe and efficient roadways for all motorists.
- User taxes when new revenue is needed for roads and bridges. User taxes may include, but are not limited to, gas tax, registration and other user fees. New revenues for roads and bridges shall go through the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF). Such taxes must be in line with maintenance costs and should be consistent with neighboring states.
- Local options that raise funds dedicated to road funding from user-based fees.
- A system that allows for indexing of the fuel tax rate.
- Taxing other forms of energy that are used in transportation at an equitable rate including development of a formula to collect a road tax on electric usage for recharging of electric vehicle.
- An increase in the return of Michigan-collected revenues sent to the National Highway Trust Fund.
- Reverting to the property tax or special assessments as a means of building and maintaining state roads and bridges.
All transportation expenditures must be examined to achieve the best and most efficient use of transportation funding. We support PA 51 of 1951 which outlines the distribution of the MTF.
We support the following PA 51 changes:
- At least 25 percent of federal road funds go to local road agencies. At least 25 percent of federal bridge funds go to the Local Bridge program for use by local road agencies.
- Before any debt is serviced, the Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) shall be allocated with 25 percent to urban counties and 25 percent to rural counties, as defined in the TEDF.
- An increase in federal highway funding and the TEDF dollars used to finance a portion of the all-season road program.
- All funds from the MTF should be earmarked for maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure. Eliminate non-road related earmarked administrative funding and off-the-top state debt service from the MTF.
- Allocating funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), at a reasonable rate, to the responsible road maintenance body for removal of wildlife carcasses from the roadways and rights of-way.
- More effective use of Michigan’s mass transit funds. Ten percent of Michigan’s transportation funds are dedicated to mass transit systems. We urge new or improved mass transit options be studied, including waterways, in appropriate areas.
- Raising the statutory limit on the amount of funds that can be transferred from primary to local road systems, provided these funds are used to match other locally raised revenue. We believe local roads should receive a higher priority.
- Adequate funding of the Michigan Forest Roads Program.
- The concept of easily allowing county road commissions to transfer federal funds to other counties and/or state road projects when applicable.
- Distribution of road funding based on road use or traffic volume.
Road Construction and Maintenance
New road construction, improvements and maintenance, as well as issues of jurisdictional transfer of existing roads should be carried out in a spirit of cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies involving constituent groups throughout the project. We encourage local governments to continue to look for increased efficiencies in government by prioritizing services, reforming where possible, eliminating duplicative services, and utilizing private partners.
We believe the local road agency must dedicate themselves to using the most economical means possible to establish and maintain an efficient transportation system.
Regarding road planning, we support:
- Encouraging the local road agency to work in coordination with all pertinent county agencies (e.g., drain/water resources commission), townships, local planning, zoning boards, county Farm Bureaus, and affected property owners in order to minimize road construction cost and gather public input.
- Providing a role for counties and townships in road improvement decisions.
- Local road agencies utilizing Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Asset Management Program, or similar program, to annually evaluate conditions of all roads and dispersal of funds under their jurisdiction and report such findings to the public.
- Research to develop better materials for road and bridge construction and maintenance for proper construction and longevity.
- An emphasis on improving existing roadways prior to constructing new highways.
- Long-range planning on road construction projects considering not only future needs of the area but also the effects on agriculture.
- Every consideration being given to landowners adjacent to the roadway to provide for safe travel for farm machinery and products.
- Requiring consideration of agricultural drainage needs, including proper placement and size of culverts, when planning, designing and maintaining roads.
- Proper grading of all roads and shoulders on a regular basis.
- MDOT taking into consideration the size and maneuverability of farm equipment when designing new traffic flow structures such as roundabouts or Michigan turnarounds.
- Compensation for crop losses when changes are made to the right of way from road improvements or reconstruction.
- Every effort being made to select alignments that preserve productive farmland, wetlands and historical sites.
- The use of private contractors and a bidding process for road and bridge development and maintenance.
- A preference being given to contractors with material testing locations in Michigan with proven results.
- The removal of state-mandated wage guidelines which may not reflect actual market conditions.
- An open bid process for all road construction, improvements, and maintenance projects.
- The cost of road improvements impacted from development being required to be shared by the developer when new developments have an adverse impact on the rural road system.
- The respective state agency paying for or the requirement for the project being waived, when Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and MDNR specifications increase the cost of maintaining safe bridge structures.
- The purchase of rights of way for the construction of complete cloverleafs when new freeways are built.
- The builder of a housing development near a freeway or existing highway being responsible for erecting an acceptable sound barrier, if needed.
- Highway maintenance and changes within the existing right of way not having to complete a new environmental impact study before performing the work.
- Wetlands mitigation not being required if improvements to the road are within the existing road right of way.
- Ending the inclusion of planned wildlife habitat in the construction and renovation of Michigan highways.
- Reclassifying US 23 from Toledo to Flint as an interstate highway.
When performing road construction, we support:
- An emphasis being directed toward the placing of crossroad, yield or stop signs at unmarked rural intersections.
- Hardtop roads of adequate width being marked with highly-reflective center lines and sidelines as an aid to safer nighttime driving.
- Engineering and design of roadways being required to have at least 20 feet clearance between obstacles.
- Proper grading and bank reseeding being completed where road construction occurs to improve road safety and reduce erosion.
- All rural roads should be marked with a name or number.
- Mail and newspaper boxes being placed on the same side of the road and as far from the traveled portion of the road as safety allows.
- Prior to non-emergency detouring of state highway traffic onto county roads, MDOT will collaborate with township government, county road departments, and local and county law enforcement, to establish reduced speed limits, establish no-passing zones along the detour route, and mark intersections with illuminated stop signs or overhead traffic lights. As part of the project cost, MDOT will make funds available for law enforcement to specifically patrol the detour.
For road maintenance, we support:
- The designated maintenance authority clearing and maintaining roadsides, roadways and intersections of hazards that obstruct the view of motorists or impede travel, road drainage, or cropland drainage. This would include dead and dying trees within the right of way. In the event the authorized authority is unable to fulfill their maintenance obligations, landowners should be allowed to perform such work. Property owners should maintain proper visibility of intersection views by using the triangular sight-line system.
- Encouraging the privatization of road maintenance and the mowing and trimming of road ditches when feasible.
- Individuals, pursuant to reasonable regulations, being allowed to harvest existing forages and trees along roadways without a permit.
- Any traveled portion of the road and shoulder having trees and overgrowth trimmed to a minimum height of 17 feet due to the increase in height and width of farm and custom application equipment. Also, a reasonably safe condition should be provided by the respective road agency.
- MDOT being required to fix and maintain fencing along state highways as part of the maintenance of that highway.
- County road commissions notifying the owner when work in the right of way will be done and will destroy crops.
We are especially concerned with excessive use of road salt, the adverse effect it has on the environment, and the increased rate at which it deteriorates roads and bridges in urban and rural Michigan. We support:
- The use of Calcium Magnesium Acetate or other ag-based products for de-icing roads and bridges, including the use of sand, when environmentally and economically feasible.
- A reduction in ice melt and dust control products containing sodium chloride, with no salt being used adjacent to sensitive perennial crops and/or arable soils, wherever feasible.