LANSING, Mich. - The $1 trillion federal infrastructure spending law includes billions of dollars for Michigan, including fixing roads, replacing lead water pipes, and expanding access to high-speed internet and electric vehicle charging stations.
Members of Congress expect the historic level of funding to start reaching the state by spring.
The aid must go to specific priorities, though the Republican-led Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will in many cases decide which projects to fund. The state and municipalities also will be able to apply to the federal government for competitive grants.
"It's not a stretch to say that this infrastructure bill is a generational investment," said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Holly Democrat who likened it to construction of the national highway system. The legislation was supported by every Democrat in the delegation except Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and by one Republican, Rep. Fred Upton of St. Joseph.
What Michigan will receive:
$7.2 billion in core federal highway program funding over five years, a $340 million -- or 30% -- annual increase. While road and bridge work is primarily funded with state fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, aid from the federal gas tax accounts for 28% of Michigan's transportation budget.
"We're going to split that between MDOT and the local (road) agencies," state transportation director Paul Ajegba said, noting that Whitmer previously authorized $3.5 billion in borrowing focused mostly on improving state-owned highways. "We think with this additional money, we can start tackling some of the issues in our trunk lines in the inner cities."
--$563 million, or an additional $113 million a year, under a new program to replace or repair bridges.
--$1 billion for public transit. That is $47 million more annually, a 30% boost.
--$1.3 billion to address aging water infrastructure, including replacing lead service lines and addressing groundwater contamination from "forever chemicals" known as PFAS. It was not immediately clear how much could be spent to swap out the pipes that can lead to elevated lead levels in a community's drinking water if the supply is not properly treated like in Flint and Benton Harbor. Michigan has an estimated 460,000 such lines that generally must be replaced over 20 years.
--$110M to expand the charging network for electric vehicles. The auto industry has committed to producing electric vehicles for as much as half of U.S. sales by the end of the decade.
"If someone's going to be making that next generation of cars, I want it to be us. Part of dealing with that is range anxiety that the average buyer feels because they don't know that they can drive up north and successfully charge up," Slotkin said.
--At least $100 million to bring high-speed internet to more rural areas that lack adequate broadband infrastructure. Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters has said about 400,000 residents lack access. Roughly 2.5 million low-income people will be eligible for a subsidy to make it more affordable.
--$304 million to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change on roads and other parts of the transportation network.
--An unspecified portion of $500 million nationally so states can provide low-interest loans to local governments to reduce the risk of natural disasters. Peters, who secured the funding, said projects could include seawalls and stormwater drains to address extreme flooding, shoreline erosion, and rising water levels.