VanderWall calls $1.3B plan to fix Michigan bridges a necessary investment in the state’s infrastructure

LANSING, Mich. — Among the 18 cosponsors of the MI Safe Drive plan, Sen. Curt VanderWall on Thursday celebrated the  passage of a $1.3 billion plan to fund the state’s most needed bridge repairs as a necessary investment for Michigan’s infrastructure.

“This one-time federal funding will help improve public safety by repairing bridges in most need of repair throughout Michigan,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “Additionally, this funding will provide local governments the opportunity to make other needed road improvements instead of having to focus resources on these critical bridges. All of this can be done using existing funds instead of raising taxes on hardworking Michiganders.”

It is estimated around 400 locally managed bridges across Michigan are in severe condition. Senate Bill 529 would use $1.3 billion in federal recovery funds to fix them through bundling, where the design and construction of multiple projects around the state are contracted at the same time.

Eligible bridges would include those with poor ratings of 0-3 according to Michigan Department of Transportation inspections that rank various structural conditions on a scale from zero to nine. The 35th District is home to 14 poorly rated bridges.

The bill also includes over $195 million to cover local road agency revenue losses and $126 million in federal money to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways. Michigan was ranked the 15th worst in the nation in 2020 for the total number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail crossings. The funds would help reduce or in some cases eliminate train-vehicle interactions through grade separation at crossings throughout the state.

“I think the MI Safe Drive plan is a great and necessary investment into our infrastructure,” VanderWall said. “Repairing bridges that are in most need of critical repairs without adding to the tax burden of Michigan’s citizens will not only be a safety benefit for divers now, but also for years to come.”