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Barrett cosponsors plan to fix bridges throughout state

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Tom Barrett said Wednesday he cosponsored MI Safe Drive, a plan to fund repairs for hundreds of bridges in severe condition throughout Michigan.

“This is an excellent opportunity to invest over a billion dollars directly into fixing a significant portion of our state’s dilapidated bridges without sticking local governments and residents with the bill,” said Barrett, R-Charlotte, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. “Instead of just talking about infrastructure improvements, let’s do something now and make our bridges safer for generations to come.”

It is estimated that, across Michigan, about 400, or 6%, of locally managed bridges are considered to be in severe condition. Senate Bill 529 would use $1.5 billion in federal recovery funds to fix them through bundling, where the design and construction of multiple projects around the state are contracted at the same time.

The bill also includes an additional $126 million in federal money to improve safety at several railroad crossings. Michigan was ranked the 15th worst in the nation in 2020 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.

“The MI Safe Drive plan will go a long way toward improving our state’s transportation infrastructure without additional costs to state taxpayers,” Barrett said. “I look forward to getting this done so we can get repair projects going as soon as possible.”

SB 529 was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.