HB 4555: Paving gravel roads doesn’t count

As you know, the state collects a fuel tax. That money gets divided among various groups, including counties, cities, and villages (but not townships.) Of this money, not less than 1% must be spent on non-motorized transportation. The City of Ferndale used their 1% to pay for their bike lanes, but not all communities spend their money that well.

One reason is the law considers the paving of gravel roads as a non-motorized project. This is where the Road Commission of Oakland County spends their 1%. They were surprised to hear that cyclists often prefer gravel roads.

In Lansing, HB 4555 was signed by the Governor yesterday. It removes the paving of gravel roads from the 1%, but allows the paving of shoulders. It also explicitly allows sidewalks in cities and villages, which the City of Royal Oak and others were already doing.

Another problem is MDOT doesn’t have the resources to audit this 1% requirement. Communities are required to submit 5-year programs, but there’s no enforcement or oversight.

I made the suggestion that the 1% expenditures be posted on the MDOT web site so cyclists can audit their local agencies. Unfortunately that did not make it into the bill, though it still could be done by either MDOT or a group like the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB). All the 1% expenditures are public, it’s just a matter of collecting them and making them readable.

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