Senate passes bill for Michigan toll roads study

    Pothole in Detroit | Susan J. Demas

    A series of roads and transportation bills passed the Michigan Senate today, including legislation to allow a study that would look at the possibility of tolling high-traffic roads across the state as one way to boost infrastructure spending.

    Senate Bill 517, sponsored by state Sen. John Bizon (R-Battle Creek), would require the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to facilitate an outside consulting firm to perform a study and implementation plan on the state’s ability to toll highways. A written report of the study and plan would be required within 18 months of the bill becoming law.

    Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) commented after the 31-7 vote that Michiganders should not be alarmed and the legislation is simply to look into the feasibility of toll roads in the state. 

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    In order to become law, the bill must pass the state House and then be signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

    Michigan is currently one of the 15 states in the United States that doesn’t have any toll roads. The state has considered toll roads before. Back in 1951, I-75, from Toledo to Bay City, and I-94 from Detroit to Chicago, were studied to be built as toll roads, but federal funding covered most construction costs. Michigan ultimately didn’t pursue toll roads.

    Anna Liz Nichols
    Anna Liz Nichols covers criminal justice, the environment and the Legislature. She has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. She is finishing up a degree in journalism and environmental studies at Michigan State University, graduating May 2020.