Sen. Marty Knollenberg
Sen. Marty Knollenberg

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would eliminate the financial requirement local governments currently face when state highway repairs are conducted within their jurisdiction.

“Current law forces cities to pay for roads that they do not own,” said state Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, the bill’s sponsor. “The goal of this legislation was to come up with a system that treats all cities that host a portion of our state’s highways the same.”

Act 51, the 1951 law that outlines how road funding is to be collected and dispersed, requires all cities and villages with a population larger than 25,000 to pay a portion of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOTs) project costs for opening, widening, and improving state trunk line highways that lie within that incorporated city or village.

Under the current road-funding structure in the state, the State Trunk line Fund receives 39.1 percent of road funding, county road commissions divide 39.1 percent, and cities and villages divide the remaining 21.8 percent. Cities and villages are then required to return a portion of their 21.8 percent to MDOT when state trunk line projects fall within their limits.

Senate Bill 1068 would eliminate that requirement.

“Local officials in my district, along with many others from around the state, have expressed frustration for some time with the way the current system works,” Knollenberg said. “In my district, the city of Troy is looking at a $9 million tab for the portion of the I-75 project that runs through its boundaries and the city of Royal Oak is also facing a $4 million bill for the same project.”

Knollenberg argues that removing the requirement that forces communities to reimburse MDOT for projects within their limits will free up money needed for local road repairs and maintenance — such as fixing potholes and plowing snow.

“This bill would save the cities of Madison Heights, Royal Oak and Troy nearly $20 million,” Knollenberg said. “Local governments rely on this funding for their own road projects and routine maintenance; they should not have to delay these projects or decrease services so MDOT can receive a rebate.”

SB 1068 will now go to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.