The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is considered a national model for finding innovative ways to cut costs and operate more efficiently – but it’s just not enough to close the gap between current need and decreasing funding levels for transportation. Michigan invests less in its transportation system today than do any of its neighboring states. In fact, Ohio – with a road system size comparable to Michigan – invests more than $1 billion more each year in its transportation system.
Although prices for necessary supplies like diesel fuel, asphalt and salt have gone up substantially since 1999, Michigan collected approximately the same amount of transportation revenue in 2011 as it did in 1999. To cut costs, MDOT:
- Saved $48.1 million by reducing staff by 15 percent and closing eight offices or facilities;
- Saved $8 million a year by improving internal processes to reduce staff time;
- Save $4 million each year by using electronic energy-efficient technologies;
- Saved $933,000 by implementing innovative winter maintenance practices to maximize efficiency;
- Saved $100,000 per year by simplifying accounting practices.
In 2011, MDOT saved $55 million through savings in the State Trunkline Fund, Comprehensive Transportation Fund and in the Aeronautics Fund – on top of $71 million in one-time savings through innovative bond restructuring and new construction materials and methods.
County road agencies are good stewards of taxpayer dollars too. An MDOT report showed that administrative expenses averaged only 6.9 percent of county road agency revenues in 2011 – despite rapid increases in health care costs in the last few years.
In short: Michigan’s transportation agencies are serious about using each taxpayer dollar as efficiently as possible. However, with current need so great and funding levels continuing to decline, it’s not possible to stretch transportation dollars any farther to produce a long-term solution for Michigan’s crumbling roads. That’s why the Michigan Transportation Team, a broad-based coalition representing business, labor, local governments, agriculture and civic organizations is calling on the Governor and Michigan Legislature to do one simple thing: “Just Fix The Roads!”