- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lags nearby states and the country in infrastructure spending and needs $4 billion more annually to upgrade aging roads, water systems and other critical infrastructure, a commission created by Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday.

The panel, which was formed nine months ago in the wake of the Flint water crisis, reported that state and local capital spending in Michigan averaged 6.4 percent of total expenditures from 2010 to 2014. The U.S. average was 10.2 percent. Michigan was behind adjacent states including Indiana (9.9 percent), Ohio (9.2 percent) and Wisconsin (8.5 percent).

Current taxes and fees do not raise enough revenue, and Michigan “lacks sustainable funding sources to build infrastructure systems for today, as well as for the future,” according to the report . For example, even when higher fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees take effect in January as part of a road-funding plan enacted in 2015, the state will still need $2.2 billion more a year for roads and bridges.

The 188-page report recommended that lawmakers consider allowing regional-level sales and gasoline taxes and authorizing toll roads; state agencies should pilot per-mile, GPS-based fees studied in other states

The $4 billion needed could come from federal, state and local funding along with user fees and private investment, the 27-member commission said. As a start, it urged Michigan to become a national leader by implementing a statewide asset management system - through which a council, using a database, could better coordinate infrastructure projects.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to increase spending on projects to repair and replace the country’s deteriorating infrastructure, though it is unclear how much would be spent in Michigan.

“Our state’s infrastructure challenges are serious and wide-ranging, and we need to act with urgency to improve our infrastructure systems and make Michigan an even better place to live,” the Republican governor, who held a news conference at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, said in a statement. “Safe and reliable infrastructure is critically important to the health and well-being of the people of Michigan and will help support our growing economy in the future.”

The infrastructure in need of the most expensive upgrades is transportation and water.

Many of Michigan’s nearly 1,400 community water systems were built 50 to 100 years ago. Flint’s contaminated water is a reminder that many places, especially older cities, still have underground lead pipes carrying water into homes and buildings.

Snyder, who first announced the commission in his January State of the State address, has previously proposed the replacement of all lead service lines in Michigan. Flint plans to replace thousands of lead and galvanized steel service pipes with an initial $27 million in state funds.

Other areas cited include energy infrastructure like natural gas pipelines and communications infrastructure such as improved broadband access.

“This plan is not just about what infrastructure we need to fix. It’s about where we want our infrastructure to be 30 to 50 years from now in order for it to be safer, more reliable and more affordable for all Michiganders,” said the commission’s chairman, Evan Weiner, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Edw. C. Levy and Co., a Dearborn-based provider of road-building materials.

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Online:

Infrastructure report: https://bit.ly/2gdjWi7

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert

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