Michigan’s Transportation System

The Michigan transportation system consists of a combination of roads, airports, mass transit systems, ports, waterways and international border crossings. From both a passenger and freight perspective, it is important to ensure that this system is interconnected and that smooth “intermodal” operations can be conducted across modes on any given trip. Since Michigan sits at the middle of the U.S.-Canadian economy and trading network, it is also important to ensure that people and goods can effectively travel to and from Canada. As such, the state must work to ensure that the highway network effectively interconnects these various modes of transportation and facilities.

Michigan’s transportation infrastructure is owned and operated by a combination of state, county and city entities. While the vast bulk of transportation trips are made on the highway system in cars and trucks, state and local entities are also responsible for mass transit, airport and port infrastructure. With respect to highways, the state itself owns a small percentage of the system, but these state roads, as compared to county/city roads, account for the bulk of auto and truck traffic every day. The number of miles of roads owned by each entity, and the importance of those roads, is an important factor to consider in studying current and proposed road funding plans.

The following subsections discuss the ownership and types of Michigan roads, and their funding.