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Michigan in line for billions from infrastructure bill. Here’s where it would go

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Michigan’s infrastructure “is reaching the end of its useful life and continues to threaten the state’s lakes, rivers, drinking water, and public health and safety,” according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

LANSING— If President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill becomes law, Michigan will have billions of dollars to fix its decayed bridges and roads, and improve access to broadband. 

The proposal, which was approved by the U.S. Senate this week but has yet to pass the U.S. House, has drawn praise from Michigan lawmakers who say it will lead to transformational investments in a state that has received poor marks for years for its infrastructure.

“What this bill is going to do is create resources to do a lot of the things that we need to rebuild Michigan that are so critical,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing., told reporters Tuesday.

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According to the proposal, Michigan is expected to get $7.3 billion for highways and $563 million for bridge replacements over a five-year period.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a fellow Democrat who campaigned as a gubernatorial candidate promising to “Fix the Damn Roads,” said the bill would help modernize infrastructure.

More than a quarter of state bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete, and a 2016 state report recommended Michigan spend $4 billion more annually to update infrastructure the American Society of Civil Engineers has said “is reaching the end of its useful life and continues to threaten the state’s lakes, rivers, drinking water, and public health and safety.”

“This bold package will create millions of good-paying jobs, fix crumbling roads and bridges, help us build a clean, resilient energy grid, bolster public transportation, deliver clean drinking water to millions of families, and ensure every home has access to high-speed internet,” Whitmer said. 

The governor is set to join Biden and other national leaders at the White House on Wednesday for an event about the bill.

Here’s what Michigan is also in line to receive from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: 

  • A minimum of $100 million to provide broadband coverage and connect at least 398,000 residents to the Internet. Michigan estimates 1.2 million homes — about 1 in 4 in the state — lack a permanent fixed broadband access.
  • $110 million over five years for the expansion of electric vehicle charging networks. Michigan has about 600 charging stations, putting it in the top 25 percent among states nationwide.
  • $1 billion to improve public transportation including rail lines and buses over five years.
  • $1 billion over five years for the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes, increasing the current appropriation by about $200 million
  • Money to replace lead pipes and address PFAS contamination. The bill contains $55 billion nationwide, but Michigan’s share has not been identified. The state has an estimated 11,000 sites contaminated with the so-called “forever chemicals,” and up to 500,000 lead lines that will cost up to  $2.5 billion to replace them all, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said the infrastructure bill takes steps to address climate change and invests in “resiliency up front” with a $500 million revolving loan fund to create low-interest loans for communities and disaster mitigation projects.

“We know that every dollar we invest upfront saves taxpayers $6 in the long run,” Peters said. “These are the kinds of investments we need to be making in our country.”

The measure received rare bipartisan support, with 19 Republican senators voting for it. 

One of them was Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, who said in a statement the passage of the bill proves “that both sides of the political aisle can still come together around common sense solutions.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will now go to the Democratic-led U.S. House. Some Republicans, including Rep. Bill Huizenga, have concerns about the cost of the bill. Huizenga told WZZM-TV 13 “eventually someone has to pay for this."

Progressive Democrats in the House have said they want the Senate to take up a $3.5 trillion budget proposal that includes significant investments in climate change, family leave, and child care before passing the infrastructure bill. 

The Senate passed on Wednesday morning the budget blueprint with votes along party lines. 

Moderate Democrats and others are pushing House Democrats to hold a vote as soon as possible on the infrastructure bill. Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, implored the House to act. 

“Congressional leaders should continue to work toward providing resources that support communities, address our housing needs, invest in our workforce, and foster sustainable and resilient places,” Gilmartin said in a statement. “It is time to meet this challenge and fully realize our nation’s enormous capacity to equitably invest in community wealth building, and we are ready and willing to add our voice to the process.”

Editor’s note: This headline was changed Aug. 13 because a previous one included an inaccurate total of how much Michigan may receive from the bill.

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