Council Opposes Transportation Bills

June 11, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Members of the Grand Valley Metro Council, the regional planning agency, officially went on record recently as opposing legislation that would give Lansing lawmakers authority over the state’s five-year transportation plans.

Bills pending in both the state House and Senate would require lawmakers to approve the Michigan Department of Transportation plan before work on any of the projects in the plan could begin.

Council members fear that transportation projects could fall victim to political sniping as Republicans battle Democrats over funding, and that local roadwork wouldn’t get started if a majority of legislators didn’t ratify the MDOT plan.

Metro Council Transportation Director Abed Itani pointed out that the Federal Highway Administration, which allocates the transportation dollars Congress approves, wants local jurisdictions to make decisions on which projects receive funding.

Itani added that the council, which reviews and approves area projects in unison with local officials, spent five years working with MDOT to create the current approval process — one that requires the State Transportation Commission, and not lawmakers, to have the final say.

“If legislators want to be a part of this, they can get involved with the council,” said Itani. “But if they disagree with a project or two, they could stop all funding.”

The Metro Council approved a resolution that opposes both bills and sent it to Lansing.           

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