Op-Ed: Michigan Needs a New Transportation Strategy

One writer calls on the state to stop expanding roads and channel funding to projects that support Michigan’s sustainability goals.

2 minute read

October 17, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial photo of the US 131/M-6/68th St. interchange in Wyoming, MIchigan

Highway 131 in Wyoming, Michigan | Michigan Dept. of Transportation / Wikimedia

In an opinion piece in Bridge Michigan, Robert Goodspeed calls on the state of Michigan to rethink its transportation spending and shift focus away from expanding freeways and roads that contribute to carbon emissions and induce more driving and congestion. Goodspeed asks, “Why do we need these if the state population has been flat for 20 years, and highways run counter to our state’s sustainability goals?”

“Right now, MDOT is spending $1.3 billion on the I-75 modernization project which will add additional commuting lanes, and a reported $269 million on a project to add a ‘flex’ lane to a 12-mile segment of I-96 in Oakland County. The $3 billion reconstruction of I-94 in downtown Detroit is also adding a lane and incurring the costs of wider bridges to accommodate it.” As Goodspeed notes, “Although some of the big freeway projects also include necessary rehabilitations, a big part of their cost are additional lanes and interchanges to make traffic flow a bit smoother.”

Goodspeed pushes back against common arguments for road expansion, writing, “In the longer term, they encourage sprawling development that empties out existing communities and gobbles up precious farmland and wilderness. One study found road improvements resulted in 20 percent more traffic.”

The op-ed ends with a strong call to action. “Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan calls for carbon neutrality by 2050. To act on it, her administration should immediately cancel all road widening projects and modernizations resulting in more lane miles (including HOV and Flex lanes), including the capacity enhancing features I-23, I-96, and I-75 projects. Doing so would unlock millions which can be used to address the maintenance needs of existing roads and free up funds for transit alternatives.”

Thursday, October 13, 2022 in Bridge Michigan

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

View of Palos Verdes Drive along Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California at sunset.

Erosion Threatens SoCal Road, Lloyd Wright Icon

The city of Palos Verdes is closing parts of a roadway to cyclists, citing safety concerns as the land underneath moves between 7 and 12 inches per week.

June 23 - Daily Breeze

Faded image of vacant storefront in rural area with American flag stars painteind on windows.

COVID Isn’t to Blame for the Retail Vacancy Crisis

A drop in demand for retail space began well before the seismic shifts of the pandemic.

June 23 - Slate

Heavy New York City traffic headed toward Holland Tunnel in Manhattan.

Judge Rules in Favor of MTA in Congestion Pricing Suit

Advocates of the program are calling on Gov. Hochul to reinstate the program in light of the decision.

June 23 - StreetsBlog NYC

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.