Michigan Senate approves bill to study feasibility of toll roads

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — The Michigan Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would require the Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of bringing toll roads to the state.

The bill, which passed by a vote of 31-7, comes as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says Michigan needs more than $2 billion in additional funding annually to improve its roadways.

Sen. John Bizon, R-Battle Creek, said he was inspired to introduce the proposal after trips to Chicago, where he had to pay tolls in both Indiana and Illinois.

A bill approved by the Michigan Senate on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, would require a study on the feasibility of instituting toll roads in Michigan.

“The question becomes would it be appropriate to start asking some of the people from out of state to pay for some of the roads," Bizon said after the vote.

Under the bill, the Michigan Department of Transportation would hire a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study and create a "strategic implementation plan" on tolling state highways. The study, which is due 18 months after the bill becomes law, must include revenue projections, according to the bill.

The study would examine the economic impact of requiring the payment of toll charges to use particular highways and the ability to provide discounts to in-state drivers.

"This is only a study," Bizon said. "This isn’t the beginning of tolling."

The study would also examine whether the state can toll some of its current highways and whether it can institute tolls on high occupancy lanes, Bizon said.

The bill now goes to the Michigan House for consideration.