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LAND STEWARDSHIP: Study: Michigan creates more jobs, faster, with public transportation and work on existing roads

The state will create more jobs, faster, by investing in existing roads and improving public transportation rather than funding new road projects, according to a report released in Michigan by the Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, and Smart Growth America (SGA).

The report graded Michigan’s use of federal transportation stimulus dollars from average to poor, when ranked against the job-creation effectiveness of the 50 states.

Gov. Rick Snyder has recognized the role of infrastructure in economic well-being, even including bridge condition as an initial indicator on his MiDashboard—a scorecard of the state’s economic and social conditions announced during his State of the State speech. The groups, in a February press blitz, urged the governor, Transportation Director Kirk Steudle and Michigan’s legislature to use this report’s findings to continue moving Michigan towards prosperity. That is best done by investing in public transportation and maintenance of existing roads as a strategy to increase jobs and economic activity.

“It’s a struggle to maintain the roads we have with the money available, so it makes sense to use that limited money to maintain what we have,” said Chris Kolb of the Michigan Environmental Council. “This report shows that this makes sense from a jobs standpoint as well as an infrastructure perspective.”

The report includes rankings showing how effectively the state used its share of $26.6 billion in flexible transportation dollars given out as part of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Spending on public transportation, the report found, creates 31 percent more jobs per dollar than spending on new capacity. Road and bridge repair creates 16 percent more jobs than new capacity.

Michigan ranked 24th among states in spending money on maintaining existing roadways—using 81 percent of its ARRA dollars to do so. Nineteen percent was spent on new road capacity.

In spending on public transportation, Michigan ranked 38th—using only 2.6 percent of the federal funds on such projects. Each of the other seven Great Lakes states spent a higher percentage on public transportation—led by New York at 21.2 percent.

“Nationally, we are beginning to chart an aggressive course of improving existing infrastructure and upgrading public transportation solutions like passenger rail lines,” said Richard Murphy of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. “In Michigan, it’s not just about jobs laying pavement or railroad tracks—it’s about jobs created in vibrant commercial districts near transit lines and rail stations and in walkable, accessible downtowns.”

A copy of the report is available at this link: http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/documents/smart-transportation-mich.pdf
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