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Bizon: Senate announces funding for major overhaul of state’s bridges

LANSING, Mich. — State Senate Republicans on Wednesday introduced a budget supplemental that would dedicate $1.5 billion to fixing bridges in severe condition throughout the state.

“There is a lot of talk in Lansing and Washington, D.C. about fixing infrastructure, but so far there has been little action,” said Sen. John Bizon, M.D., R-Battle Creek. “This is our opportunity to make a significant investment in fixing hundreds of aging bridges throughout our district and state without sticking residents with higher taxes or fees to cover the cost. As bridges are the costliest transportation assets for our communities, now is the right time to dedicate this funding and relieve local governments from the cost burden while so many residents are still hurting financially from the pandemic.”

It is estimated that, across Michigan, about 400, or 6%, of locally managed bridges are considered to be in severe condition. Senate Bill 529 would utilize the 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.

Additionally, the bill would dedicate $126 million in federal funds for a new Local Grade Separation Grant Program to transform railroad crossings so that road traffic would travel either over or under railroads. To be eligible for the grant program, local road agencies would be required to provide matching funds of 20% or more.

“Railroad crossings are dangerous and result in too many avoidable train-vehicle collisions,” Bizon said. “By establishing this new program, we can transform these crossings and improve safety and traffic flow at a time when Michigan ranks among the worst in the nation for train-vehicle encounters.”

SB 529 now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.