Letter: Michigan roads impact tourism

Now is the time for our state legislators to do what they’ve been unable to accomplish over the past decade — pass a road and infrastructure funding bill.

While our elected officials have engaged in this difficult and longstanding debate, our roads have grown worse, much worse. Over the same period, roads in surrounding states that compete with Michigan for tourism dollars, have greatly improved in comparison.

In fact, other Great Lakes states invest from a high of $530 to a low of $214 per person on their roads. Sadly, Michigan only spends $154 per capita on road repair while the average expenditure of competing states is $323.

As the disparity between Michigan roads and those of surrounding states continues to widen, it will inevitably depress tourism outcomes here. This is not good for a state that is uniquely known as a “drive-to” destination.

Some representatives claim there are ways to cut spending and find $1 billion in savings to repair our roads. For the past three years, the Governor has asked them to send over a proposal that accomplishes that. Not a single response has been received.

The Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association (MLTA) does not support any particular funding approach be it increases in the gas tax, vehicle registration cost or a modified sales tax. It's not our job to figure out which approach is fairest. That's why we send legislators to Lansing.

Representatives all understand the options they have to resolve this longstanding debate. It's time for them to act now.

Along with our state’s manufacturing and agricultural industries, we’re calling on State representatives to vote in support of a plan that provides an additional $1 billion in new investment for repairs and maintenance of Michigan roads. This investment is central to the growth and stability of Michigan's tourism industry and the contributions it makes to a stronger state economy.

MLTA and its members urge legislators to make the tough choices today to help ensure our state's economic growth continues. The future of Michigan’s tourism industry, which generates $17.7 billion in economic activity and employs more than 200,000 residents, rests on this issue.

Steve Yencich

president and CEO

Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association