Gov. Whitmer’s Building Michigan Plan, backed by federal funding, highlights much-needed road investments

Governor Whitmer stands at lecturn in front of state seal.

Anzhe Zang

Following the approval of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Plan, road repairs are expected to begin for some of the state’s most used roads, highways, and bridges next month.

The bipartisan $4.8 billion state infrastructure plan, $4.1 billion of which comes from federal funding through President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), will allocate $317 million for both road and bridge projects. The legislation arrives at a time when roads have turned into a major issue and talking point for state residents.

“We are continuing to fix the damn roads across Michigan to keep drivers safe and save them time and money,” noted Gov. Whitmer, highlighting a commitment to roadwork investments.

According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, in 2018, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave Michigan a D+ on its infrastructure report card, estimating that “just 18% of the state’s roads [were] in good condition.” For Michigan, road disrepair is a particularly important safety issue when it comes to driving conditions during the winter, and the accumulated damage roads experience from snow and changing seasons.

The Building Michigan Plan is just the latest investment in a series of federal funding initiatives from the infrastructure bill that would see the state receive $7.3 billion for highway aid programs and another $563 million for bridge replacements and repair, a much-needed funding source as the ASCE reports many bridges in the state are held together by temporary supports.

The state has 1,219 bridges and over 7,300 miles of highway in need of maintenance or repair, which has led to an increase of 4.6% in commute time since 2011 for working Michiganders.

Road damage also leads to residents paying more out-of-pocket for repairs – it’s estimated that Michigan car owners spend $644 every year to address car damages. The Building Michigan Plan, funded in part by the IIJA, is meant to alleviate some of these costs.

Infrastructure, particularly road disrepair, has been an issue in Michigan for decades, with the economic downturn in the past years exacerbating issues surrounding under-funded highways, roads, and bridges. During Gov. Whitmer’s tenure in office, Michigan has rebuilt or repaired 13,000 miles of road and over 900 bridges.