New State Grants to Fix Roads in Oakland Co. Ahead of GM Expansion

The General Motors Orion Assembly Plant sign is shown on March 22, 2019 in Lake Orion, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

August 8, 2023

Millions of dollars in state funding awarded this week through the Michigan Transportation Economic Development Fund is set to improve road conditions near General Motors’ Orion Assembly Plant as the automaker prepares to invest $3.5 billion in Michigan. 

LANSING—About $5 million in state grant funding awarded this week to the Oakland County Road Commission is poised to lead to some big safety improvements and upgrades to the roadways near General Motors’ forthcoming $3.5 billion assembly plant in Orion Township.

The cash was awarded on Tuesday through the state’s Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF)—which funds public highway, road, and street projects that are “critical” for getting workers to their jobs and finished goods into the hands of customers, according to a release.

State and local officials said the new infrastructure funding will help to support more than 1,500 “good-paying” jobs, as well as make Oakland County “a better place to live, work, and invest.”

“On a project of this size and significance, collaboration is key and local, state and federal partners came together to make sure this transformational General Motors’ project in Orion Township moves forward smoothly,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said in a statement. “This plant will be a catalyst for the mobility industry of the future in Michigan and the region, and the improvements in the infrastructure around the facility are essential to ensuring a safe and welcoming workplace for the thousands of people who will be employed at the plant.”

Last January, General Motors announced plans to invest $7 billion in four manufacturing facilities to help make Michigan a nationwide “hub” for electric vehicle manufacturing—including about $3.5 billion to convert its existing factory in Orion Township to make electric pickup trucks

State officials said the Orion Township plant was picked for a number of reasons, including the existing availability of land and employees. But the company was also lured into the development plans by another promise from state and local officials to fix up the local roads.

Federal lawmakers have already allocated about $7 million for the project. The TEDF funding awarded this week will provide an additional $5 million, enabling the Oakland County Road Commission to rebuild the three roads—as well as curbs and gutters—that surround the plant.

More specifically: Brown Road between Jamm and Giddings roads, Giddings Road from Brown to Silverbell roads, and Silverbell Road from Giddings Road to M-24 are all set to be rebuilt. A new, center-left turn lane will also be added to Brown Road—making it a full five lanes across. 

The fixes are set to decrease safety risks for anyone who uses the roads, as well as make it easier for GM (and its various suppliers and distributors) to access the new manufacturing plant.

“It is especially important that the quality of our roads keeps pace with the quality of our cars,” state Senator Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) said in a statement. “This grant to the Oakland County Road Commission does both, helping improve our roads and supporting General Motors’ new electric battery production, bringing significant investment and creating more jobs.”

In related news…

Another state infrastructure grant was issued this week to the city of Sault Ste. Marie in order for crews to install new, all-season roads near the soon-to-be reconstructed Carbide Dock Port.

The $845,000 project will involve extending (and resurfacing) Ord Street from Portage Avenue north to the Carbide Dock and Alford Park, as well as extending Salmon Run Way from Lake Superior State University to the new Ord Street extension, according to state officials.

A rendering of the rebuilt Carbide Dock. (Courtesy/City of Sault Ste. Marie)

The Carbide Dock is currently being reconstructed after it was decommissioned in 2017. As a result of the dock reconstruction, state officials said Northern Sand and Gravel, Central Marine Logistics, and Morton Salt plan to expand their operations and hire more employees. To accommodate that expansion, all-season roads are needed to handle the increased traffic.

In a statement, City Manager Brian Chapman said the creation of an all-season haul route in the Upper Peninsula will represent an important “economic driver” for the city of Sault Ste. Marie.

“This funding is critical not just for the city, but for multiple counties that receive salt shipments, aggregate, and benefit from cruise ship tourism,” Chapman said. “Having a roadway of this caliber will increase our import and export power, and combat supply chain issues.”   

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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