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Auditor General: MDOT allowed stakeholders too much say in study

Michigan Department of Transportation

The findings of a $100,000 study were improperly influenced by lobbyists. That’s according to a new state Auditor General report.

According to emails and documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Aggregates Association was a primary gravel lobbying firm that influenced the study.

The 2016 study was commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transportation. It said the state was low on gravel and suggested more mining. This was the result gravel and sand lobbyists had hoped for.

Jeff Cranson is a spokesman for MDOT. He says the department director, Paul Ajegba, asked for the audit.

“The director will now take these findings into consideration and he’ll figure out what the department can learn from it and what kind of safeguards can be implemented to ensure the department is spending taxpayer dollars as effectively as possible,” he said.

The auditor general says the influence of gravel lobbyists limited the usefulness of the study. It said the $100,000 dollars spent to commission the study was not a good use of state money.

The State Transportation Commission chairman has said the firm should refund the state for the cost of the study.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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