Michigan Senate approves federal transportation funding for bridges

September 2, 2021

Keith Goble

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A bill halfway through the Michigan statehouse would tap $1.625 billion in one-time federal money for the state to benefit local transportation issues.

The Senate voted 23-12 to advance a bill to apply a portion of the $5.65 billion in federal Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds the state received from the U.S. Treasury for bridge projects. SB529 now moves to the House.

Sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, the bill would appropriate $1.625 billion to rehabilitate or replace bridges, compensate county road commissions and cities and villages for lost revenue, and address local rail grade separation issues.

The intent of the funding is to compensate for revenue lost over the past two fiscal years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest chunk of transportation aid – $1.3 billion – would be allotted for bridge programs. Specifically, the funds would be applied for rehabilitation or replacement of bridges owned by local road agencies.

About $196,000 would be designated for county road commissions and cities and villages. Another $126,000 would be applied for local rail grade separation.

Schmidt said the funding would complement recently approved road funding by the state Legislature.

“We’ve approved record funding for road repairs in recent years, and this federal money will help build on those initiatives and help further boost infrastructure repairs across Michigan.” Schmidt said in prepared remarks. “This funding would prioritize bridge projects, especially those in severe condition.”

Local bridges

The Michigan Department of Transportation would coordinate the program to create the following priority for bridges that would be rehabilitated or replaced:

  • Locally owned bridges currently closed to traffic.
  • Locally owned bridges currently posted or restricted from legal loads.
  • Locally owned bridges in need or rehabilitation or replacement as rated by regional bridge councils to ensure safety or unimpeded commercial traffic.

Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, is a bill co-sponsor. He said of the nearly 12,000 bridges in Michigan, 7,038 are managed by local municipalities. About 400 of the bridges are poorly rated.

“Not only will (SB529) improve the safety of numerous bridges across the state, covering the costs of these bridge repairs with federal monies will also help local governments by freeing up funding for other needed road projects in their communities,” Nesbitt stated.

The bill is in the House Appropriations Committee. LL

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.