Should Michigan add tolls to most frequently traveled freeways?

Posted at 6:59 AM, Mar 12, 2024

(WXYZ) — The state of Michigan is brainstorming ways to make up for a budget shortfall in road infrastructure dollars.

Currently, roads in our state are paid for with federal, state and local funds and about half of the state funding comes from the gas tax. The other half comes from vehicle registration fees.

On average, each Michigander pays about $400 a year in gas taxes/vehicle registration fees which goes toward the road budget. However, the state says that money pot is becoming smaller as more drivers are going electric or buying fuel efficient cars and contributing to the gas tax less and less.

Michigan’s Department of Transportation recently conducted a survey about possible changes that could be made to change the way we fund road infrastructure. Lawmakers are considering the addition of tolls on the most frequently traveled freeways or other road usage charges to make up the additional funds needed to pay for future road projects.

MDOT says instead of paying state fuel taxes, road usage charges would require drivers to pay a few cents for each mile they drive.

7 Action News traveled to Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to ask metro Detroiters about the condition of the roads and the prospect of having to pay to drive on roads like I-75, I-94 and I-96.

“It may help but I mean, I don’t think tolls will work here in Michigan because... It’ll just hurt people's pockets who stay here,” said Terance Collins, who was born and raised in the city of Detroit. “This is a peninsula, so people don’t pass through Michigan. I think tolls work better in a state where people pass through like Ohio.”

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“Yeah, I don’t like that idea. I think we pay too much taxes as it is. People need more money in their pockets,” said Stevan Hanna from Sterling Heights. “Back in the day, like ancient times, they made their roads really good. The Roman Empire did a great job of that. I hope we can maybe take some lessons from them.”

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“The freeways are excellent. Van Dyke over here is really good. Most of the roads are OK, but there are some that really need a lot of work because it’s a land mine,” said Eric Fistler, who lives in Warren. “I think they charge enough taxes already.”

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“It’s a disaster. We’ve been hearing since the last election fix the damn roads. Nothing’s happened,” said Karl Szklarski, who’s from Sterling Heights. “(Tolls are) more weight on Michiganders, on people in the city, on people in the area. Why do we always have to take on the burden of mismanagement?”

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“Some of them good, some of them bad. Can’t say all of them bad,” said Detroiter Beverly Carrington of the roadways. “I’m always concerned for myself and my car and other people.”

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“If that’s going to help go toward the roads getting fixed and everything. It makes a difference and then it slows down some of these people who think they can drive better than me,” said Detroiter Mr. C.

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"They are much, much better since seven years ago when we moved here. There are less potholes and we can see the difference,” said Elie Alam, who lives in Southfield. “You know, I never cared for (tolls) but if that helps, why not. I personally don’t like it, but I see many states, they do it. And if they do use the money to improve the roads sure, why not.”

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