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Senate approves Schmidt bridge repair plan

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Wayne Schmidt that would use federal money to fund crucial bridge repairs and other projects throughout the state.

“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,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “This funding would prioritize bridge projects, especially those in severe condition.”

Senate Bill 529 would utilize over $1.6 billion in one-time federal money, $1.3 billion of which would be devoted to local bridge repairs. The bill dedicates over $195 million for local road revenue replacement along with the funding for bridges.

“Bridges are one of the most expensive items local road agencies are responsible for,” Schmidt said. “These funds for bridge repairs, along with the replacement road revenue, would relieve local governments of a tremendous financial burden.”

Also included in the $1.6 billion is $126 million 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 train-vehicle accidents, while also eliminating congestion and allowing better avenues for first responders,” Schmidt said.

The senator added that this legislation further demonstrates the commitment he and his colleagues are making to the states troubled infrastructure.

“This plan continues our strong commitment to improving the safety of our roads and bridges for Michigan drivers,” Schmidt said. “This funding builds on our previous road funding efforts — and does so using existing resources rather than raising taxes.”

SB 529 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.