D054 News / Committee / Bio - Ronnie Peterson

State Rep. Ronnie Peterson is serving his second term in the House of Representatives representing the 54th House District, which includes the city of Ypsilanti, along with Ypsilanti and Superior townships.

As a civic and community leader, Rep. Peterson is deeply committed and has been engaged in public service for more than 30 years. He served his community as an elected member of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. As a county commissioner, Rep. Peterson served as chair of the Ways and Means Committee and sat on the Retirement Pension Board and Money Purchase Board. Before countywide service, he was a member of the Ypsilanti City Council for two terms.

Rep. Peterson played a leading role in stimulating job creation, economic development and delivery of public services in Washtenaw County. For example, he was instrumental in founding the Eastern Washtenaw County Leaders forum and establishing the Spark East Business Incubator. He also served on the boards of the Washtenaw Development Council, Vantage Point Detroit Regional Aerotropolis, Wayne County Airport Joint Airport Zoning Board, Washtenaw Private Industry Council, and the Workforce Development Board. In addition, Rep. Peterson initiated civic improvement projects like renovating the 14th District Court, establishing the Washtenaw Human Services office in his community and increasing neighborhood improvement projects around Eastern Michigan University’s campus.

Beyond his official duties, Rep. Peterson also served on the boards of numerous associations and charitable organizations. Previously, he was president of the Ypsilanti Breakfast Optimist Club, and vice president and treasurer of the Ypsilanti Area Jaycees. As a volunteer, he supported and served on the boards of the Washtenaw County United Way, Advisory Council for Foster Grandparents Program, the Policy Council for Washtenaw Head Start, the Corner Health Center, the Full Circle Community Center and the Washtenaw County Council for Children.

As a Washtenaw County commissioner, former Ypsilanti City Council member and citizen, Rep. Peterson played a leading role with others in advocating for and establishing the following initiatives and resources in Ypsilanti:

  • Sponsoring the New Full Circle Community Center to enhance mental health services
  • Establishing the Washtenaw County Dental Clinic to expand service delivery
  • Founding the Harriet Street Commerce Center to provide employment and job training
  • Promoting the Downtown Ypsilanti and Cross Street Façade Improvement program
  • Advocating for establishment of the new Humane Society of Huron Valley
  • Appropriations
  • Appropriations subcommittee - LARA and DIFS - Democratic Vice Chair
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Military, Veterans Affairs and State Police
  • Appropriations subcommittee - Transportation - Democratic Vice Chair

Fixing the Doggone Roads Town Hall Draws 200 Residents

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan Department of Transportation Director Paul Ajegba visited the Tilden R. Stumbo Civic Center on March 18, 2019 for a Town Hall meeting that I hosted and moderated by Ypsilanti Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo. The discussion centered on the current state of disrepair of our roads, bridges and infrastructure, the projected cost of repairs, and from where the money may come.

Approximately 200 area residents attended this fast-paced and informative meeting. Much information was dispersed but there simply wasn’t enough time to answer every question.

So, I have added this new section to my webpage where I will list each question that was submitted and provide my best answer. I will continue to post updates as quickly as my staff and I can amongst our other duties.

Be sure to call the office or send me an email if you need any further clarification on the information provided below about Fixing the Doggone Roads!

The Road to Opportunity

A Briefing on Governor Whitmer’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Proposal

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and MDOT Director Paul Ajegba started off the Fixing the Doggone Roads Town Hall Meeting with a PowerPoint presentation of Governor Whitmer’s plan to repair or replace our failing roads and infrastructure. A link to the slide show is provided below:

Road Budget Presentation

Fixing the Doggone Roads – Heavy Trucks

Question: Why does Michigan allow overweight commercial trucks on our roads?

The simple answer is: We don’t. In fact, typical Michigan truck weights, per axel, fall well below the national standard.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), since 1982, federal law has required all states to allow gross vehicle weights (GVW) of 80,000 pounds on the Interstate and other designated highways. This weight is typically spread over five axels (including a three-axel tractor with a tandem-axel semi-trailer, making up the familiar “eighteen-wheeler”). Michigan and several other states have laws allowing GVW greater than 80,000 pounds, as long as the weight is spread over more than five axels. Because our heavier trucks actually weigh less per axel than the national standard, we have been allowed to keep these laws in effect.

Question: Don’t these heavy vehicles damage our roads?

Of course heavy trucks can damage roads. That is why MDOT has strict engineering standards for road building contractors. Our roads are designed and built to handle the weight of the trucks on our roads. MDOT carefully monitors road construction projects and requires a comprehensive warranty accompany every contract they sign.

Engineering authorities, including the Federal Highway Administrations’ (FHWA) Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, released in 2000, found that pavement damage caused by a vehicle is not directly related to GVW, but to axel loadings, along with other factors such as climate. Michigan law controls loads on individual axels, not total vehicle weight. The axel loadings on a multi-axel Michigan truck are frequently less than on a national-standard truck: 13,000 pounds vs. 17,000 pounds.

Michigan law also provides for additional truck-weight restrictions to be enforced during the spring months when the ground thaws and wet soils cannot adequately support the pavement. These restrictions further protect roads from seasonal damage.

Question: Why doesn’t Michigan use the National Standard for truck weights?

According to MDOT, if Michigan’s current truck weight laws were repealed, under federal law they could not be re-enacted at a later date. The change to GVW-based weights would mean, to transport the same amount of goods, we would have to add 10,000 to 15,000 more trucks to Michigan roads. This would create more traffic congestion, more air and noise pollution and heavier axel loadings.

Michigan’s roads and bridges were designed for the current weight limits. Changing weight limits would not only make it more expensive to ship goods by requiring more trucks, it would also mean that the money MDOT and other road agencies have invested in these roads and bridges would be wasted.

 Question: Why aren’t trucks paying their fair share to fix the roads?

The question of whether trucks are paying their fair share is subjective. Below is a summary of the numbers, let me know if you think they are fair.

Truck operators contribute $257 million per year in Michigan road revenues, or 14 percent.

An 80,000-pound truck traveling 125,000 miles per year pays about $10,418 each year in state and federal road-user fees, or approximately 8.33 cents per mile. An automobile pays approximately 2.4 cents per mile.

Truck registration fees vary depending on its size and what it is used for. A 32,000 pound delivery truck pays $649. An 80,000 pound, 5-axel semi pays $1,660. A 164,000 pound, 11-axel truck pays $3,117. A Log or Farm truck pays $120.

The average automobile in Michigan pays $92 in registration fees.

Question: It seems like the Weigh Station on the highway is frequently closed – How are truck weight laws enforced?

Truck weight laws are enforced by the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Division and by local motor carrier officers and weighmasters. Increasingly, freeway weigh stations are supplemented by mobile weight enforcement. This technology reduces congestion on our highways and reduces the opportunity for overweight trucks to purposely avoid detection. Mobile weight enforcement technology is used at numerous points on Michigan roads, not just on freeways.

Question: Why doesn’t MDOT have a page that accurately informs the public how expensive road repair is and how they allocate tax revenue?

The Michigan Department of Transportation is an excellent organization that regularly posts easy-to-understand brochures on their website about the critical issues that face the department. Some of the links that are currently under the Transportation Funding page on the MDOT website include: “Transportation Funding Revenue from Gas Tax”, “Average Cost of Maintenance”, “Toll Roads 101”, etcetera. If you have any questions on road repair feel free to contact my office and my staff will be happy to talk to you about any specific issue or I implore you to browse the MDOT main web page for free, accurate information about all issues concerning our roads.

Question: Can we implement toll roads in Michigan?

Although I understand the sentiment of finding other sources of revenue for roads, toll roads are not the answer for Michigan for a number of reasons. Toll roads, such as the Ohio turnpike, are designed very differently from the Michigan freeway system. They have fewer interchanges as they are designed for traffic that cuts through the state rather than diverting traffic to destinations in the state. Implementing this different design would could affect tourism and the location of small businesses; not to mention the extra costs of reconfiguring our freeways to accommodate fewer exits.

There are ongoing studies in states like Oregon and Minnesota to charge drivers based on routes and/or distances driven called Mileage-based user fees. Congestion Pricing is also another tool used in cities like London to control traffic in congested urban areas. MDOT is aware of these studies and will look at the findings from the research done in other states to see if it is suitable here.