UM Sees Road Wage Benefits


    LANSING — Businesses in the state will save $35 million in travel time through 2009 because of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s five-year highway program.

    At the same time, the program will save non-business travelers nearly $58 million in travel time over the same period. The program also will create 26,550 jobs in Michigan this year and nearly 107,000 jobs over its five-year life.

    Those findings come from a study done by the University of Michigan. Researchers from the university’s Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations and the Economic Development Research Group examined MDOT’s 2005-09 Highway Program and concluded that a well-maintained and efficient transportation system serves as the backbone for economic activity.

    “MDOT’s work to preserve state roads and bridges provides residents and visitors alike with a good quality of life, helps promote responsible land use, and ensures that Michigan’s businesses keep their global competitive edge,” said Gov. Jennifer Granholm in a statement.

    The U-M study reported the travel time saved from the program would generate an inflation-adjusted $6.5 billion in gross product for the state and would create $4.2 billion in real personal income for the state.

    As a local example of what the report calls efficiency, MDOT said the new 20-mile M-6 freeway would increase vehicle miles traveled by 31,296 per day, but would cut vehicle hours traveled by 1,686 hours each day.

    In the Grand Region, which consists of eight West Michigan counties, the study reported that 5.8 billion vehicle hours were traveled in 2003 and more than 485 million of those hours were driven by commercial vehicles. That means businesses logged 8.3 percent of all those vehicle hours in the region, the fourth highest of MDOT’s seven regions.

    According to the study, commercial hours traveled should decline over the next five years. Across the state, businesses should save more than 253,000 hours on the road this year, and that figure grows each year to slightly more than 700,000 hours in 2009.

    Non-business travelers are expected to cut 2.9 million hours from their travels in Michigan this year and 7.7 million in 2009.

    MDOT estimates that the Grand Region will see a savings of 2,296 vehicle hours traveled when the department’s five-year program ends in 2009. (See related chart.)

    The five-year transportation program will spend $233 million on roads and bridges in the Grand Region from this year through 2009. Road work will account for $164 million of that total, while $69 million will be spent on bridges. MDOT will work on 165 miles of the 938 miles of roads in the region and on 87 of the region’s 741 bridges.

    Major local projects include bridgework along I-196 east of U.S. 131 and improvements to a five-mile stretch of I-196 from Coopersville to M-37 in 2006. This year the program is reconstructing a portion of U.S. 131 from Ann Street to West River Drive.

    “We are focused on the right mix of fixes to best manage our system on behalf of our customers,” said Grand Region engineer Roger Safford. “Whether it’s a long-term fix or a CPM project to preserve a good road, people traveling in West Michigan are noticing solid improvements in the condition of state roads.”    

    Grand Plan

    LANSING — The Michigan Department of Transportation said vehicle hours traveled (VHT) on roads slated for work in the Grand Region will decrease by nearly 2,297 hours when its five-year highway and bridge program is completed in 2009.

    The following chart logs the daily VHT before projects get started and the estimated VHT after the work is done for each of the program’s five years, and provides the annual VHT savings for each of those years



    Daily VHT
    Before Projects


    Daily VHT
    After Projects


    Daily VHT
    Savings From




































    Total VHT Savings From Five-Year Plan                     2,296.96

    Source: Michigan Department of Transportation, February 2005

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