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On this episode of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations about how supplemental appropriations legislation will boost a long-sought rebuilding of a freeway interchange that is vital to the regional flow of commuters, commerce and quality of life. First, Michigan Department of Transportation Grand Region Engineer Erick Kind talks about how the interchange at I-96 and Fruit Ridge Avenue in Walker, northwest of Grand Rapids, has been outdated and in need of improvement for several years. As with all transportation infrastructure in Michigan, decades-long underinvestment has made the improvements cost-prohibitive, despite the growing manufacturing, agricultural, service industry, and community needs in the corridor.  The interchange is categorized as functionally obsolete and in need of replacement. Fruit Ridge Avenue has five lanes north and four lanes to the south of the bridge over I-96, but the bridge has only two lanes, which presents congestion and safety challenges. In the podcast’s second segment, State Rep. Carol Glanville, who helped secure the $25 million for the project, talks about her advocacy and success helping others understand why it’s a priority not just for the city of Walker but the broader region. She also explains how expanding the Fruit Ridge Avenue bridge will allow for nonmotorized lanes and connections between trails. From previous federal grant applications for the project:  The I-96/Fruit Ridge Avenue interchange improvement project will redesign and rebuild an important freight-handling interchange located in the city of Walker, Michigan, an agricultural and manufacturing hub of west Michigan. The project serves a substantially rural workforce, which swells the city's daytime population by more than 60 percent as they commute to and from Walker industries producing products for regional and international markets through Detroit, Chicago, the Muskegon Harbor Deepwater Port, and Canada. Other relevant links: Analysis of the supplemental appropriations legislationhttp://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2023-2024/billanalysis/House/pdf/2023-HLA-0007-96D50F76.pdf A December announcement of a nearly 200,000-square-foot industrial facility near the interchangehttps://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2022/12/whats-being-built-at-walker-intersection-its-big-and-its-industrial.html
On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Eric Morris, Michigan office lead for HNTB, the transportation consultant selected to complete a tolling study. Some 35 states have at least one facility with tolling. But that number is a little deceiving because Michigan would be counted in that total since there is tolling on big bridges and/or international crossings but no tolling on non-bridge road segments. Morris says the experts analyzed all 31 highways in Michigan for the study and determined that 14 could become toll roads, including large portions of Interstates 75, 94 and 96. As Bridge Michigan reported, any tolls would take years to implement and require approval from the Legislature and the governor, among numerous hurdles.  Morris talks about the differences between various road user charge (RUC) options, including mileage-based user fees (MBUF) and tolling and how pilot programs seeking people to participate have been voluntary, so far, including one in Oregon that has generated a lot of discussion.Other relevant links: A 2019 Epic-MRA poll of Michigan voter views on tolling.https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/-/media/Project/Websites/MDOT/Programs/Planning/Tolling/MDOT-Fees-EpicPoll.pdfSome things the study will cover, including managed lanes and how they work.https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/managelanes_primer/     Why Michigan doesn’t have tolling. Some history.https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/-/media/Project/Websites/MDOT/Programs/Planning/Tolling/MDOT-Toll-Roads.pdf
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Heather Grondin, vice president of corporate affairs and external relations at the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA), which is overseeing the building of the Gordie Howe International Bridge (GHIB). She talks about the progress made on the bridge in 2022, the busiest so far for construction. A WDBA video released in December offered year-in-review highlights. In addition to facing the traditional challenges of any large infrastructure project, the worldwide pandemic also affected the project, though work continued with safeguards for the health of the workers.  Grondin explains that among other milestones in 2023, the towers on each side of the border will reach their full height - more than 700 feet, very close to the height of the tallest building at the Renaissance Center along the Detroit riverfront.  Soon, workers will begin connecting the first cables from the towers to the bridge and road deck. Also in 2023, work will begin on the main span over the Detroit River, which will be accomplished without any work in the river. Other ongoing developments include: All structures at the ports of entry are under construction.Construction of the ramps connecting from the U.S. Port of Entry to I-75. Grondin also highlights the sustainability components of the project, which are receiving international recognition. She also explained the varied community-benefit programs that are helping neighbors of the bridge with home improvements and offering funding for some 20 non-for-profits supporting local communities in the Delray neighborhood of Detroit and the Sandwich neighborhood in Windsor.
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Brad Wieferich, MDOT chief operations officer and chief engineer, talks about major road and bridge projects completed on state trunklines in the past year, featured in MDOT’s year-end video. Among the projects discussed: I-69/I-475 in Flint, rebuilding bridges and 2 miles of highway.I-75/US-23 in Mackinaw City, repaving and a new bridge for US-23 over I-75, $12.3 million.US-2 in Bessemer, rebuilding of the road and storm sewer upgrades, $9 million,I-496 in Lansing, rebuilding/repairing of 17 bridges and nearly 3 miles of road, $80 million.US-31/I-94/I-196 in Benton Harbor, rebuilding 3.5 miles of I-94 and building new bridges at Britain Avenue and Benton Center Road, $94 million.Second Avenue Bridge over I-94 in Detroit, replacing the original structure with the state's first network tied arch bridge, $26 millionI-96 in eastern Kent County, rebuilding more than 2 miles of the expressway between Thornapple River Drive and Whitneyville Avenue, $15 million.Wieferich also talks about some of the unique challenges MDOT staff and contractors face because of the pandemic, inflation, and supply chain issues.
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a recap of transportation-related state legislation signed into law in 2022. Guests include Aarne Frobom, a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) senior policy analyst, and Troy Hagon, director of the department’s Office of Governmental Affairs. Both agreed that two bills aimed at streamlining the funding process for local road agencies, and adopted with bipartisan support, were among the most significant. Senate Bill (SB) 0465 allows local road agencies to participate in a federal aid swap with the state to reduce overall repair costs. Another bill, SB 466, authorizes the use of state funds to replace the federal dollars directed to MDOT under SB 465. Michigan joins several other states employing the buyout strategy. Other significant legislation included SB 706, a national first in paving the way for dedicated automated vehicle lanes on state routes, also adopted with bipartisan support. Specifically, the legislation authorizes MDOT to designate automated vehicle roadways, enter into agreements with technology partners to operate them, and allows for a user fee to be assessed.  Two other bills discussed on the podcast failed to get a vote in the final session of the year: House Bill 5734, which calls for the department to expand the use of temporary barriers for worker protection in segments of roads under construction, and SB 1151, aimed at providing toll operators with a mechanism for collecting unpaid tolls. 
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Trevor Pawl, Michigan’s chief mobility officer, talks about recommendations in a report from the Michigan Council on Future Mobility and Electrification. Among the highlights, or pillars, Pawl outlines:Transition and grow our mobility industry and workforce.Invest in bus rapid transit and spend $10 million to revive the state’s mobility challenges to solve employment and equity barriers.  Fund a public relations campaign to enhance Michigan’s sustainability leadership.  Scale the Michigan Electric Vehicle (EV) Jobs Academy.  Create a global center of excellence for responsible artificial intelligence.  Provide safer, greener and more accessible transportation infrastructureExpand Michigan’s Alternative Fuel Corridor opportunities for clean hydrogen and commission a study on hydrogen applications in commercial traffic.  Develop accessibility standards for EV chargers.  Create a state EV consumer incentive.  Fund a $45 million bus electrification program.  Expand use of sinking funds to support electric school bus deployments.  Support Phase Two of the MDOT work zone safety pilot program.  Design a clean fuels standard that works for Michigan.  Lead the world in mobility and electrification policy and innovationInvest $30 million in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology development. Pass legislation to preserve Michigan’s uniform, statewide automated vehicle policy.  Keep up the annual support for state mobility agencies’ capacity.  Pass legislation to create a mobility research and development talent tax credit.  Continue advocating to federal policymakers on important connected vehicle issues.  
On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation, a conversation on two timely topics with long-time friend of the podcast, Lloyd Brown, of HDR. First, a reaction to recent news that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advised the New Jersey Department of Transportation to discontinue the use of humorous messages on changeable message signs. Brown has done some research on the use of humor in communications and offers insights he’s gathered. As reported on NJ.com, FHWA officials said in an e-mail, “The Federal Highway Administration is aware of the changeable message signs and has reached out to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT).”The story said the FHWA did not answer questions asking for more details, including why it asked NJDOT to discontinue use of the messages or how it has handled other states that use humor to get attention to safety issues.The answer to why the signs were disallowed might be in the 31-paragraph ruling about “Uses of, and Nonstandard Syntax on Changeable Message Signs” issued on Jan. 4, 2021, by the U.S. DOT and FHWA. In a second segment, Brown talks about what the rapid changes at Twitter and slashing of the work force by new owner Elon Musk could mean to DOTs that have used the platform as a vital and interactive tool to communicate in real time with travelers. As reported in the New York Times, spoof messages and parody accounts have proliferated in recent days, including some that impersonate state DOTs. This raises questions about whether government agencies will eventually abandon the platform in search of others with some degree of content monitoring and regulation. 
On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation about the 2023-2027 Five-Year Transportation Program, approved by the State Transportation Commission Nov. 10. Michael Case, a planning specialist at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) who oversees development of the program, talks about the history of the process. He also discusses the challenges of trying to forecast the future with ongoing uncertainty over transportation funding, inflation and climate change. Case also breaks down project highlight focus areas as outlined in the report:Equity and inclusion,Transportation resilience, andComplete Streets/multimodal. This is the second time the program has included those areas. Case explains how these inform the plan, as well as the plan's emphasis on each focus area across MDOT’s seven regions and its support of various mobility modes. Case explains how he and his colleagues endeavor to engage even difficult-to-reach audiences to be sure they are included in the public involvement process and weigh in on their unique transportation needs.
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation about passenger rail service in the state. Tim Hoeffner, a former director of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Office of Rail and now a consultant with Quandel Consultants, is the guest.Hoeffner talks about the history of passenger rail service in Michigan and offers his perspective about developments in recent years, including ongoing work to establish dependable 110 mph Amtrak service between Detroit and Chicago. Among the challenges Hoeffner discusses: Purchasing equipment to enhance riders’ experience and ensure dependable service;Resolving congestion with freight lines on the Indiana portion of the Detroit-Chicago corridor; andWorking with communities along passenger lines to establish stations where it makes sense but balance that need with travel time.Hoeffner also talks about the state Legislature and federal government pitching in funding for a study of a passenger line between Ann Arbor and Traverse City.  Traverse City-based Groundwork for Resilient Communities has been a leading advocate of A2TC project. The Cadillac/Wexford Transit Authority will work in partnership with Groundwork and a team of partners to complete the planning study.
This week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast focuses on the Equity in Infrastructure Project (EIP).  On Oct. 11, chief executive officers from six state departments of transportation signed a pledge, saying they are committed to streamline processes for obtaining necessary disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) certifications, improve payment time and expand access to financing to help underserved businesses.Michigan Department of Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba was among the leaders signing the pledge. He talks about the importance of the event and what it means to him.Saying it was high honor to be included in the event, Ajegba talks about both the symbolic and tangible benefits of signing the pledge. He says this demonstrates a commitment to make sure federal dollars are distributed in an equitable way to shore up DBE and other programs.Ajegba also explains that it involves a bigger-picture view and looking at barriers holding back DBEs.In the second segment, Phil Washington, CEO of the Denver International Airport and President Biden’s nominee to head the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), discusses his role in co-founding EIP."You can see the urgency behind our cause in how quickly this coalition is expanding with the participation of some of the largest public contracting entities in the nation," Washington said in the news release about the event. "As we improve America's transit systems, airports and other infrastructure, we must be focused on improving people's lives, too."Washington also discusses the support and shared commitment of the White House.
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation, conversations about the negotiations and efforts to honor the rights of landowners while developing transportation projects. First, Teresa Vanis, manager of the real estate services section at MDOT, talks about her vast experience helping property owners with the acquisition process.  She explains the laws and policies governing government land acquisition and myriad protections built in for property owners in federal law and the State of Michigan’s Uniform Condemnation Procedures Act of 1980. Later, Mohammed Alghurabi, MDOT’s senior project manager on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, makes a return visit to the podcast and shares what he’s learned in several years of communicating with landowners and others affected when roads and bridges are built.
On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Susan Howard, director of policy and government relations for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Picking up on last week’s conversation with Richard Czuba, a veteran Michigan pollster and founder of the Glengariff Group, Howard talks about results from a recent Glengariff poll that asked Michigan voters for their perceptions of road conditions and repairs and how those results fit with what she’s seen at the national level. Howard says contrary to common belief, lawmakers have largely not paid a price for raising taxes or fees that fund transportation infrastructure when voters understand where the money is going and can see the results. Howard also addresses the health of the Highway Trust Fund and why the “donor-state” concept is no longer an issue in Michigan and other states (save, perhaps for Texas, where she says officials would make a different argument).  The federal government has used the General Fund to compensate for the diminished Highway Trust Fund for several years now, while the federal gas tax has not been raised since 1993. AASHTO officials have cited the cost of other items in 1993 versus now and how transportation infrastructure has suffered because of the lack of action.  Is the Highway Trust Fund model broken? Howard discuses the history of the fund going back to its origins in 1956 and some discussion about whether transportation should be funded like other federally supported discretionary programs. “The conventional wisdom and accepted course for the future is moving away from the gas tax as the method for funding transportation and to a mileage-based fee,” Howard says, which recalls previous podcast conversations about funding roads like public utilities.
On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a conversation with Richard Czuba, a veteran Michigan pollster and founder of the Glengariff Group. A recent poll commissioned by his clients, The Detroit News and WDIV-TV, included some questions to measure Michigan voter perceptions of road conditions and repairs. Among issues discussed:What drives perceptions of road conditions. Is it mostly informed by how rough the pavement is on the street where a person lives or a local arterial or freeway used for commuting?Demographic breakdowns in the polling and differences in perception by gender and age group. Czuba’s research over the years and his conclusions about why people might be expressing more optimism about road work in Michigan.Perceptions of the Rebuilding Michigan bonding plan.As Czuba told the Detroit News when the poll was released: “It’s a perfect example of the voters aren’t stupid — they can actually make sense of what the issues are, who’s doing what.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Detroit Thursday, Sept. 15, bearing gifts. The secretary joined Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, MDOT Director Paul Ajegba, and others to formally award MDOT a nearly $105 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to convert the recessed I-375 freeway into an urban boulevard, allowing for the reconnection of neighborhoods with the city’s central business district as well as cultural and sports venues.This week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast features conversations with Zach Kolodin, director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office established by Gov. Whitmer earlier this year, and Jon Loree, MDOT’s I-375 project manager. First, Kolodin talks about his office’s role in overseeing all infrastructure, not just that related to transportation, and then shares his perspective on the I-375 announcement. Loree explains the benefits and opportunities the grant will provide for the project and talks about his ongoing work in public involvement with corridor neighbors, business owners and myriad interested parties.The project cost estimate is $270 million, with an additional $30 million anticipated for engineering costs. The INFRA grant will go toward construction and cover more than a third of that.As Gov. Whitmer observed in her remarks, competition for the INFRA grants was fierce, meaning Michigan’s selection for the fourth-highest amount of all the awards signals the value the project will provide to the community.With the grant, the project will be able to complete design and begin construction as soon as 2025, at least two years earlier than originally hoped. Work should be completed in 2028. Loree explains how design efforts are beginning and conversations and engagement continue on the future land use and community enhancements.The project is taking an innovative approach to use the value of the excess property from the freeway-to-boulevard conversion for community enhancements to acknowledge and address historic environmental justice effects from the original freeway construction.
This November marks the 65th anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge, the iconic structure linking Michigan’s two peninsulas. Each year, tens of thousands of people from across the state and other regions descend on the Straits of Mackinac for the experience of traversing the bridge. On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, first, Patrick “Shorty” Gleason, a long-time member and chairman of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, shares his memories of many walks with friends and family. As an iron worker, his father, Mike Gleason, helped build the bridge, and Shorty talks about the legacy and his own experience as an iron worker. Later, Cole Cavalieri, assistant chief engineer at the Mackinac Bridge, talks about the ongoing work to maintain the bridge, projects in the works or planned for the future, and the pride he takes in watching people experience the bridge during the annual walk.  He also discusses recent challenges in maintaining the bridge, including the changing climate’s role in altering freeze-thaw cycles and causing ice to melt and fall on the driving lanes.
In 2006, Illinois became the first state to authorize the use of automated traffic enforcement programs to enforce speed limits in highway work zones, with implementation coming a few years later. The enabling legislation provided a legal framework for photo enforcement of speed limits in highway work zones. Last week, some Michigan lawmakers, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials, and leaders in labor organizations and the road building industry witnessed demonstrations on Michigan freeways of how the technology works. On this edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, first, a conversation with Juan Pava, Safety Programs Unit chief, Bureau of Safety Programs and Engineering at the Illinois Department of Transportation, about how the enforcement has worked there. Later, Lance Binoniemi of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA), talks about why he and his members are advocating for House Bill 5750, and what he learned from the demonstrations. Some key themes: Both transportation professionals and researchers generally agree that active enforcement is the most effective way to reduce speeding in work zones. However, speed enforcement in work zones is not always as simple as posting police in the work zone. Oftentimes work zones are not conducive to active enforcement by officers. For example, the work zone layout may limit both the number of safe locations where officers can position their vehicles and the number of pull-off areas where violators can be stopped.Active enforcement may also mean that officers will need to leave the work zone to cite a vehicle (which decreases enforcement visibility) or step out of their vehicles in the work zone (which opens them up to the risk of being struck by a passing vehicle).Alternatively, photo speed enforcement systems provide active enforcement while remaining stationary, and they can consistently cite more drivers, which can increase compliance with posted speed limits. Another benefit of using fixed camera systems is that they don’t require officers to risk injury or death by exposing themselves to vehicles moving at high speeds through the work zone. Studies of these systems in general have shown that their use could result in a reduction in injury crashes of as much as 20 to 25 percent.
Late last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the City of Detroit would receive $25 million in a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity RAISE grant toward a major project to modernize US-12 (Michigan Avenue) in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. On a new edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist talks about what this means to him as a neighbor of the corridor. Per the grant application:MDOT and the city are collaborating on a project to rebuild a portion of Michigan Avenue to support a safe, innovative, and multimodal travel corridor. The project will re-apportion space in the right of way to accommodate several new and improved multimodal facilities, including:Expanded sidewalks and pedestrian amenities like seating, lighting, and street trees.Raised bike lanes at sidewalk level for areas with existing lanes, new dedicated and buffered bike lanes in downtown, and bike racks.Two dedicated center-running lanes for transit vehicles and for connected and autonomous vehicles. Transit vehicles will have signal priority to limit waiting time.Improved amenities, like concrete transit islands and new shelters.Improved markings and islands for additional/enhanced midblock pedestrian crossings.Two new traffic signals for intersections. Gilchrist talks about how these added benefits will transform the neighborhood and how the project spells good things to come for Corktown, a diverse neighborhood with a rich history.Podcast photo: Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. Photo courtesy of Lt. Gov. Gilchrist's Office.
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations with two people working on initiatives to protect those who build our state’s roads and bridges.Michigan House Bill 5750 would allow the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Michigan State Police (MSP) to set up automated speed enforcement systems in segments of state roads where work is being performed. First, John Osika, a veteran of Operating Engineers 324, representing heavy equipment operators, talks about the need for this legislation and other measures to protect workers. He recently penned an op-ed for Bridge Magazine laying out the reasons he and his colleagues support HB 5750.He also discusses close calls he observed first-hand while working on projects.Later, Lindsey Renner, MDOT construction operations engineer who is transitioning from her role as work zone manager, talks about the potential benefits of automated speed enforcement. These benefits have been measured in other states, including Maryland where a 2016 report documented a 10 percent reduction in speeds in Montgomery County.The House Fiscal Agency analysis says the bill would limit use of automated speed enforcement system to streets and highways under MDOT jurisdiction (state trunkline highways) and only in work zones when workers are present. The bill would have no impact on local road agencies.The bill earmarks civil fine revenue from violations of section 627c first to MDOT, by implication for the cost of installing and using automated speed enforcement systems. The bill directs MDOT to deposit civil fine revenue from violations of section 627c in excess of the costs of installing and using automated speed enforcement systems into the Work Zone Safety Fund, established in the bill as a restricted fund for the purpose of improving work zone safety. 
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden in late 2021, among many things, established a National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (“NEVI Formula”) to provide funding to states to strategically deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and to establish an interconnected network to facilitate data collection, access, and reliability.In order to access those federal funds, in Michigan’s case, $110 million, states are required to submit a plan to the federal government. MDOT submitted the plan on Thursday, July 28, but the development involved several state agencies and other partners. This week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast features a conversation with two of the people who worked on the plan: —   Niles Annelin is a policy section manager at MDOT and spearheaded the department’s efforts on the plan.—   And Judd Herzer, director of strategic policy at the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity (LEO) and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification.Among the most vital themes emphasized in the plan is equity. Annelin talks about the extensive efforts the team took to ensure to maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities. Herzer explains how a work force development initiative serves that goal. Specifically, the plan says the state will seek to “maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities, as well as rural and underserved communities, in alignment with the Justice40 Initiative” and will “foster a diverse pipeline of workers in EV-related careers” and “equity-driven workforce training.” Other highlights from the Michigan NEVI Plan include:A strategic vision for how Michigan will use its $110M NEVI funds to “develop a safe, equitable, reliable, convenient, and interconnected transportation electrification network that enables the efficient movement of people, improves quality of life, spurs economic growth, protects Michigan’s environment, and facilitates data collection.”Strategic goals to “reduce GHG emissions economy-wide by 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, en route to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050; and build the safe, convenient, affordable, reliable, and equitable infrastructure necessary to support two million EVs on Michigan roads by 2030.” A goal which supports the governor’s MI Healthy Climate PlanThat the Plan was developed with the input of over 200 stakeholder entities, 10 state agencies, and the general public. That the State will utilize its existing programmatic infrastructure through Charge Up Michigan (EGLE) to administer NEVI funds for Alternative Fuel Corridor buildout of a safe, reliable, accessible, and commercially viable charging network. 
In the wake of some troubling incidents on the Mackinac Bridge (involving people climbing a tower or otherwise accessing the bridge to take photos and another involving a bomb threat that closed the bridge on a busy weekend and disrupted travel for hours), the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill, 99 to 6, classifying the Mackinac Bridge and other vital structures as "key facilities." The designation means trespassing on the structures is a felony offense.This week on the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, first, a conversation with the chief sponsor of House Bill 5315, State Rep. John Damoose. Later, Patrick "Shorty" Gleason, chairman of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA), explains why the MBA took the rare step of adopting a resolution in support of the legislation.HB 5315 would add the Mackinac Bridge to the list of key facilities, as well as any movable bridge in the state: the Zilwaukee Bridge, the Rouge River Bridge, the MacArthur Bridge, and all international crossings, including the Ambassador Bridge, the Blue Water Bridge, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the International Bridge.Gleason also talks about a separate motion adopted by the Authority in opposition to Senate bills 1014 and 1078 concerning the transport of farm equipment across the bridge on I-75. The motion reads:"I move that the Board agree that the MBA's Bridge Director and this Board's Special Committee acted in good faith by thoroughly evaluating whether the proposed bills regarding farm implements could be modified to become bills that this Board could support. In the end, these individuals determined that the proposed bills and variations of them, if signed into law, would compromise the structural integrity and operations of the Mackinac Bridge and the safety of motorists who travel on the Bridge. They accordingly recommend, for these reasons, that the Board oppose the proposed bills or variations of them. I so move for the Board's agreement and support."
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