Should Michigan introduce toll roads to pay for costly repairs? - WNEM TV 5

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Should Michigan introduce toll roads to pay for costly repairs?

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Michigan is known for a lot of things but good roads are not one of them. However, some of our neighboring states, like Ohio, have great roads thanks to tolls.

Is this something we should consider in Michigan and is it even an option?

Michigan has the same weather and same amount of traffic, so why do our neighbors in Ohio feel so much better about the condition of their roads?

TV5 took to the roads on I-75 in Michigan, right before the Ohio border and it was a bumpy ride. When TV5 crossed the border into Ohio, it was much smoother sailing.

So why are Ohio's roads so much nicer than Michigan's? Here is how the state of Ohio pays for road repairs.

In the buckeye state, tolls generate nearly $300-million per year for road construction.

Could tolls be the answer to our highway headaches? TV5 brought that tough question to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Officials with MDOT say tolls, in theory, would be a great option. There is one problem in Michigan though. Most of our major freeways including I-75 and I-69 received federal funding at one point. When that's the case, the government won't allow tolls on those roads.

House Democratic leader Tim Greimel says part of the solution involves putting more of the burden on the big trucks hauling cargo through out region.

"First and foremost, we have to make sure commercial trucks are paying their fair share," says Greimel.

Currently, Michigan allows for the highest gross truck weight in the entire country. The state also has some of the lowest fines and fees for overweight trucks and oversized loads when compared to other states.

According to critics, that is the reason why so many oversized and overloaded trucks prefer to travel on Michigan roadways.

To put things into perspective, the federal weight limit for trucks is 80,000 pounds. In Michigan, it's 164,000 pounds. That is more than double federal limits.

Tim Greimel insists those higher weight limits are damaging Michigan's roads. Greimel says lawmakers have no choice but to put the brakes on big trucks.

"It's about time that we do something to make our roads better. They are some of the worst roads in the country," says Greimel.

The message is simple. If the state wants roads like Ohio, we need to spend money on the roads, like Ohio.

MDOT says for the past 50 years, Michigan is dead last in per capita spending on roads. Ohio spends a billion dollars more per year on their roads.

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