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Schmidt introduces Michigan bridge repair plan

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt on Wednesday joined several Senate Republicans in introducing legislation that would fund repairs for every severe bridge in the state.

“It’s no secret that many of the state’s roads and bridges are in poor shape,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “This funding would prioritize bridge projects across Michigan and make major headway in our goal to fix the state’s crumbling infrastructure.”

Senate Bill 529, sponsored by Schmidt, would utilize $1.5 billion in one-time federal money to fund a statewide bridge repair initiative.

Of the nearly 12,000 bridges in Michigan, 7,038 are managed by local municipalities. Of that number, over 400 are in critical need of repairs. Schmidt’s legislation would fund repairs for all of the bridges in severe condition.

“Bridges are one of the most expensive items local road agencies are responsible for,” Schmidt said. “The MI Safe Drive plan will not only help Michiganders by making much-needed, meaningful improvements to our infrastructure, it will relieve local governments of a tremendous financial burden.”

The bill also includes an additional $126 million in federal money to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways.

Michigan has over 4,000 rail crossings with public highways within the state, and in 2020, was ranked the 15th worst in the nation 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.

“Reducing interactions between trains and vehicles will not only lower accidents and fatalities, it will also reduce unwanted congestion and allow a clearer avenue for fire and police to respond to emergencies,” Schmidt said.

The senator added that while this was a major step forward for the state, there is still a great deal of work to be done before Michigan’s roads can be considered adequate.

“For the last few years, my colleagues and I have worked to put money toward investments that would actually improve the state’s roads and bridges,” Schmidt said. “We’ve funded countless construction projects and have even tightened our belts so we could move up funding to make additional repairs sooner than we expected. We need to keep moving in this direction and making improvements that benefit every Michigander.”

SB 529 was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.