A new infrastructure bill from Washington means “shovels in the ground” for Michigan projects that will lead to better roads, hospitals, and internet access.
WASHINGTON DC—After several months of working together, Democrats and Republicans cemented the passage of a historic infrastructure plan designed to fix roads, expand internet access, and improve water infrastructure across the nation.
It’s a win-win for Michigan, officials said.
“The infrastructure plan will put our tax dollars back to work in our state to make game-changing, historic investments toward upgrading our state’s roads, bridges, water infrastructure, and so much more,” Whitmer said in a statement following the passage over the weekend. “This investment will make a huge difference in people’s lives and build on the work that we’re doing in Michigan to deliver on the kitchen-table issues. I’m ready to work with both parties in the legislature to get shovels in the ground and put Michiganders first.”
But what does that really mean for Michiganders? Quite a bit, actually. Below are some of the ways Michiganders will see improvements across their state thanks to this federal investment coming their way now that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been signed.
Fixing Those Damn Roads
A key aspect of the recently-signed infrastructure bill should sound familiar to Michiganders: fixing those damn roads.
Michigan is home to more than 1,200 bridges and over 7,300 miles of highway that have been deemed as in poor condition. Commute times in Michigan have increased by nearly 5% since 2011, and drivers pay on average $644 a year in repair costs relating to poor road conditions.
Now, you might be wondering why your tax dollars aren’t enough to fix a few potholes along Michigan’s roads. The answer is a little tricky.
In short, Michigan has long relied on quick fixes for road repairs. But with an influx of money from the federal government, the hope is that those quick fixes will be switched out for long-term solutions.
The infrastructure bill is the single largest investment in bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system, and Michigan is set to receive the funding for bridge replacement and repairs over the next five years.
Ensuring Clean Drinking Water
Between modern day water crises in Flint and Benton Harbor, as well as the emergence of PFAS issues in other parts of the state, Michigan has been experiencing issues providing clean drinking water to its residents. The infrastructure plan aims to fix that.
Michigan is set to receive funding to put toward replacing lead pipes where necessary and improve the overall water infrastructure across the state, ensuring that the water flowing from the faucets of families in every community is clean.
Charging the Future of Electric Vehicles
In Michigan, the future is now. Or, at least, it’s about to be.
“The industries have changed and electric vehicle and fuel cell solutions have come to the forefront,” said John Zelasko, the vice president of business development for North America at FEV, an automotive systems developer.
The state’s seeing an investment in electric vehicles through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Officials are hoping to build a network for electric vehicle chargers across the state, paving the way for easier long-distance travel at various stops. In the US, the market share for plug-in electric vehicle sales is about one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. President Joe Biden wants to see that change, and has called for about $7.5 billion to be put toward building a national network of chargers.
Michigan is expecting to see about $110 million over a five-year period to expand its use of electric vehicle chargers. The state can also apply for an additional $2.5 billion in grant funding to electric vehicle charging.
Booting Up High-Speed Internet for Michiganders
Many Michiganders don’t have easy access to the internet. More than 1.2 million households in Michigan are without permanent internet access, according to the governor’s office. According to some research, between 300,000 and 500,000 students in Michigan lacked access to the internet at home during the pandemic—an issue even more relevant in rural areas.
In 2021, just like electricity and running water, the internet is essentially a necessity for many people. That’s why a key element of the infrastructure act focuses on improving internet access.
Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Michigan will receive funding to help expand broadband coverage across the state by supporting initiatives launched by Whitmer, such as the Broadband Expansion Act of Michigan, a plan to expand access to more than 12,200 homes and businesses.
Understanding Shifting Weather Patterns
Michigan’s infrastructure has been woefully inadequate when it comes to dealing with climate change and extreme weather events. In the spring, parts of Metro Detroit saw severe flooding after heavy rains overwhelmed long standing infrastructural issues.
The White House said that 19 extreme weather events cost the state up to $5 billion in damages from 2010 to 2020, with additional events causing widespread damages in 2021.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act calls for historic funding to improve Michigan’s infrastructure, allocating the state money to help protect against wildfires and other events by improving preparedness measures and overhauling infrastructure.
Making Commuting Easier—and Healthier—for Michiganders
Millions of Americans rely on public transportation to get where they need to go, whether that be the grocery store, doctor appointments, or even to see loved ones. But in Michigan, those who take public transportation spend an extra 67% of their time commuting, according to the White House.
Nearly 20% of vehicles used for transit are beyond “useful life,” according to the White house. Michigan is expecting to see about $1 billion over five years under the infrastructure plan, money that will go toward improving public transit options across the entire state.