State grants pave the way for small Michigan towns to start fixing their damn roads

By Kyle Kaminski

April 9, 2024

Michigan’s highways are under perpetual construction. But Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is working to ensure smaller towns and villages get cash for road repairs, too.

MICHIGAN—More than $3 million in state grant funding awarded this month through Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is set to help fund road repairs in 15 small cities and villages across the state—and none of them have a population of more than 10,000 residents.

Last week, Whitmer announced that the Michigan Department of Transportation is providing a total of $3.1 million in grants through its Community Service Infrastructure Fund, specifically to help support road repairs and other infrastructure projects in several smaller communities.

“These grants will help communities across Michigan fix local roads faster to save drivers time and money,” Whitmer said. “Let’s keep working together to fix the damn roads so people can go to work, drop their kids off at school, and run errands without blowing a tire or cracking an axle.”

State lawmakers created the fund in 2018 as a way to help Michigan’s smaller cities and villages afford road repairs, which is often a challenge for tiny towns with limited financial resources—especially as critical, one-time funding often heads off to the state’s larger cities.

Since its inception, the fund has provided about $3 million annually to dozens of cities and villages with populations of 10,000 or less. State officials said this year’s projects were selected, in part, because they would’ve faced financial challenges getting finished without state support.

“Since I took office, Michigan has fixed 20,000 lane miles of road and 1,400 bridges while supporting over 100,000 jobs, and today’s funding will add to that total,” Whitmer said.

Grants awarded through the fund require a 50% match from local towns. They are also awarded based on financial need and prioritized to towns that haven’t received funding in the past—like the 47 cities or villages across 32 Michigan counties that received state funding last year.

“These grant awards show the governor’s commitment to fixing not just the interstate highways, but also the local roads that my constituents use every day to take their kids to after-school activities or driving downtown to their favorite restaurant,” state Rep. Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township) said in a statement. “The city of Milan, and others like it around the state, will be better places to live because of this assistance in maintaining our local roads.”

Beyond the city of Milan, 14 other cities or villages across 13 counties received funding this month. They include: Birch Run; Charlotte; Clifford; Fennville; Linden; Grand Blanc; Leslie; Milford; Portland; Rockwood; South Haven; Stevensville; St. Joseph; and Yale.

The grants ranged from $97,000 to $250,000 and are designed to cover everything from road resurfacing and culvert replacement to culvert replacement and other preventative measures.

“Especially for towns that rely on tourism to sustain their economy, having local roads in good condition is important to attract visitors, while permanent residents also benefit,” state Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph) said in a statement. “This is a win-win for our communities.”

Click here for a more detailed overview of how the grant cash is being spent in each town.

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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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