Another indicator of need relates to the costs of major new projects and the amount of new money available. In Michigan, there are several key projects that are necessary to boost capacity and assure the appropriate business clime and quality of life for industry and individuals. These projects tend to be in the growing regions of the state around Oakland County, northern Detroit, Washtenaw County, and the west Michigan Grand Rapids-Holland-Grand Haven triangle.
Projects necessary to reduce congestion and improve mobility in these areas have tremendous costs. For instance, in the Detroit area, the costs of upgrading 6 miles of I-94 are in the range of $1.3 billion. Likewise, adding lanes in Oakland County on I-75 will cost over $1 billion. Adding lanes on U.S.-23 between I-96 and Ann Arbor will also cost in the $100’s of millions, as will capacity expansion in west Michigan. What money is available for these projects currently? Virtually nothing – given that MDOT’s entire expansion budget for 2010, as noted earlier, is just $28 million, and even that modest five year plan is short of funding. Are capacity improvements needed? Perhaps not if the state economy continues to implode – but any path to recovery will require roads that guarantee fast and reliable mobility for freight and personal/business travelers.