On Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an expansive piece of legislation that addresses Michigan infrastructure and a lot more.
Need to Know
- A newly signed bipartisan law will make significant investments in Michigan’s roads, bridges, water, transit, and more.
- The spending plan targeted more than $317 million for road and bridge repairs to benefit both state and local projects.
- Most of the money comes from two federal laws championed by President Joe Biden.
MICHIGAN—Last month brought in Michiganders’ least favorite time of year: pothole season. As residents drive down cratered roads, there’s no mistake they are home in the bumpy state of Michigan.
In fact, Michigan drivers posted the most complaints about road conditions last month, as shown by a Twitter data gathered by partcatalog.com. With rising pothole complaints this year, fixing roads has become a key priority for state officials, especially with the 2022 elections looming ahead.
A bipartisan bill negotiated by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republican-led Legislature will utilize federal stimulus funding to make significant investments in Michigan’s roads, bridges, regional airports, and transit. The Building Michigan Together Plan was signed into law on Wednesday.
“Once again we’ve proven that in Michigan Republicans and Democrats can work together to get things done,” Whitmer said ahead of the bill signing. “This plan will help us continue fixing the damn roads — and the dams and roads.”
While the bipartisan deal represents a major political breakthrough, Bridge Michigan noted it comes almost six years after a commission appointed by former Gov. Rick Snyder projected the state needed to boost infrastructure spending by $4 billion annually to upgrade and maintain roads, bridges, drinking water, dams, and other systems.
The spending plan targeted critical investments of $645 million in Michigan’s infrastructure, including more than $317 million for road and bridge repairs to benefit both state and local projects. Most of the money comes from federal laws championed by President Joe Biden: the American Rescue Plan—which focused on COVID relief and passed with zero support from Republicans—and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
In the past few weeks, the state has announced and taken on multiple projects to improve roads and bridges.
One of them includes modernization of I-375 with the goal to replace the freeway with an urban boulevard to spur economic development and provide easier access between adjacent areas of Detroit. Decades ago, state officials constructed a freeway through two prosperous Black neighborhoods, displacing 130,000 people, hundreds of small businesses, churches, and more.
“The equity of who participates will be just as important as how the new boulevard ultimately will look,” Mayor Mike Duggan pointed out in a press release. “We can replicate what we did up on Livernois when we worked with neighbors to reimagine that historic business district, which is now the city’s most vibrant and successful Black-owned business corridor.”
In addition to the I-375 modernization project, the supplemental plan signed into law this week as well as Whitmer’s Rebuilding Michigan Plan will also help support:
- resuming work on a two-year project to rebuild 4.5 miles of M-59 from Romeo Plank Road to I-94 in Clinton, Macomb, Harrison, and Chesterfield townships.
- rebuilding I-94 between Britain Avenue and I-196 in Benton Township and expanding I-94 in Kalamazoo.
- connecting I-94 to US-31, a trunkline highway that runs from Indiana to Michigan state line at Bertrand Township north to south of Mackinaw City.
- the M-25 improvement project in Port Huron and Fort Gratiot Township
- repairing 33 Mile Road and 31 Mile Road bridges near North Avenue in Macomb County through the bridge bundling pilot project.
Since 2018, the State of Michigan has invested nearly $4.75 billion to fix over 13,000 lane miles of road and over 900 bridges, according to the governor’s office, which in turn has supported more than 82,000 jobs. To ensure taxpayers get the best value for their money from highly-skilled workers building Michigan’s infrastructure, Whitmer has reinstated prevailing wages for all state construction contracts.
Acknowledging just how bad the potholes are this year, Whitmer signed an executive order in early March directing the Michigan Department of Transportation to speed up pothole repairs on state trunkline highways by utilizing any and all resources at its disposal, including overtime pay and contracted services.
“I will continue to work with anyone to fix the damn roads, make long-lasting investments in our infrastructure, and put Michigan first,” Whitmer said in a statement.