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Operating Engineers praises Whitmer’s budget and road fix, calls on Legislature to find long-term solution

Operating Engineers praises Whitmer’s budget and road fix, calls on Legislature to find long-term solution

HOWELL, Mich. – Operating Engineers OE324 today praised Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget and called her proposal to jumpstart more than 120 major road construction projects statewide an investment in Michigan’s future. Approved by the Michigan Transportation Commission on Jan. 30, Whitmer’s road bonding plan proves the Legislature must step up to provide a long-term solution after refusing to pass her initial proposal in 2019, OE324 said.“

Gov. Whitmer’s budget and roads proposals are investments in Michigan workers and Michigan’s future,” said Operating Engineers 324 Business Manager Douglas Stockwell. “Operating engineers look forward to getting to work rebuilding Michigan’s transportation infrastructure and helping local communities and businesses drive safely and efficiently. We applaud Gov. Whitmer for supporting Michigan workers and Michigan’s critical infrastructure.”

OE324 called on legislators to work toward a long-term road funding solution and cautioned policymakers to be wary of political gimmicks such as Senate Bills 27 and 28, which simply move money around without addressing the real challenge: insufficient revenue for roads. Sen. Pete Lucido is the sponsor of SB 27 and 28.

“The best way to meet Michigan’s transportation infrastructure needs is to raise more money and attribute it accordingly, not use more accounting gimmicks so the left hand can rob the right hand,” Stockwell said. “Michigan families can’t afford to have legislators who want to play shell games with taxpayer dollars. The best long-term solution is to get serious about making sure tax dollars go where they’re supposed to go. We can have both strong schools and good roads and bridges. Gov. Whitmer has shown that she’s serious about finding revenues to pay for our priorities, and she’s taken the first step to jumpstart work on our roads. Now, the Legislature must do its part and show that it’s serious too.”

In addition to calling for sustainable road funding, OE324 also urged the Legislature to strengthen safety measures to keep road construction workers safe, including passing stronger protections against distracted driving.

“We need further safety protections for those hard-working Michiganders building the roads. Every worker should know that their elected officials are doing everything in their power to protect them from distracted or unsafe drivers, and return them home to their families at the end of the day.”

Whitmer’s bonding plan will fund 122 major new road projects, double the amount the Michigan Department of Transportation could fund with existing revenue.

As of 2018, 27 percent of Michigan-owned roads were rated in poor condition, compared to 41 percent of all federal aid paved roads in the state, and 53 percent of non-federal aid local roads, according to the Transportation Asset Management Council. The number of poorly rated state road miles has nearly doubled since 2010, climbing from 3,925 miles to 7,960 miles in 2018, the latest year for which ratings are available.