LANSING — State Rep. Jim Townsend (D-Royal Oak) introduced legislation on Wednesday that bans the use of federal or state dollars on proposed expansions of Interstate 75 and I-94 in the metro Detroit region. House Bill 5883 would prohibit the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) from spending nearly $4 million on the two highway expansions. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a national watchdog organization, recently identified the proposed I-94 expansion as one of the nation’s worst “Highway boondoggles.”

“These freeway expansions are an epic waste of money,” Townsend said. “At a time when we should be investing our scarce road dollars on fixing the roads we already have, MDOT is instead pursuing a freeway expansion that will weaken our economy and saddle taxpayers with new lanes to maintain in the future. We could literally repair every pothole in southeast Michigan with the amount of money the state wants to waste on these two projects.”

MDOT’s plan would spend roughly $2.7 billion on I-94 and $1.25 billion on I-75. “There are better ways to spend this money,” Townsend said. “We should be investing in Michigan’s future by rebuilding the infrastructure we have, not throwing more money at failed transportation policies straight out of the 1960s. We know that doesn’t work.”

The bill has drawn bipartisan support: 17 representatives have signed on as co-sponsors. HB 5883 has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.