WARREN, Mich. – Considerable progress is being made in the road work stoppage situation, and officials are saying everyone could be back to work soon.
The labor dispute revolves around the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, the operating engineers of Local 324 and the halt on ground roadwork along I-696 and I-75.
The lockout might be nearing an end Wednesday, according to a new statement from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
In a weekslong stalemate that left drivers squarely in the middle, there's finally hope, as Snyder's office stepped into the middle of the situation to insist it mediate some kind of settlement to move construction along.
There have been individual talks between Snyder's office and MITA and the operating engineers, but there have been no face-to-face talks.
The governor's office is angling for a settlement in which the equipment and the operating engineers get back on the job. Snyder said construction season is short and there isn't a lot of time left this year, so they can solve the larger contract issues over the winter if needed.
Here's the full statement from the governor's office:
"The state has been talking to both sides in the road-building dispute – the Operating Engineers 324 and MITA – in an attempt to help them build a framework for an agreement that will get everyone back to work. We are pushing hard to have this discussion and an agreement expedited because Gov. Snyder understands motorists’ frustration over these stalled projects.
"We have a historic amount of road funding available this year, and in subsequent years that amount will go even higher. Gov. Snyder wants both sides in this dispute back to work as quickly as possible to end this serious and unacceptable delays. These public works projects have been neglected for decades before Gov. Snyder took office and forced a discussion about road funding increases; now it's time to stop the bickering and get them done.
"In regard to Mayor Fouts’ letter, in checking with MDOT, I have been told the I-696 project was not scheduled for completion until late November. It’s important to note then that the existing closures on I-696 would have been in place right now even if the road building industry was not having this dispute with itself. It’s also unclear what declaring an emergency would actually do to change anything in this situation."