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Here’s what the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill means for Michiganders

WXYZ Detroit
Nov. 10, 2021
Kim Russell 

Congress cleared the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last week. So what exactly does that bill pay for here in Michigan?

We have spoken to Michigan lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, and even those who did not vote for the bill say it was more because of what is not in it, rather than what is in it.

When the $1.2 trillion act passed, we reached out to the The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments or SEMCOG.

It  supports local planning when it comes to where we need resources.

“We’re excited about what we saw in the bill. It is a lot of the different types of work that we do,” said Amy O’Leary, SEMCOG executive director.

One big job of SEMCOG: planning how to use federal road dollars in our region.

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is expected to provide Michigan with  $7.3 billion to fix roads and $563 million to fix bridges.

“42% of our roads are in poor condition in Southeast Michigan, and we need to do something about it,” she said.

Jeff Cranson, Director of Communication Michigan Department of Transportation, says “about 25% of that will go to the locals.”

MDOT says by providing 5 years of funding for local and state roads, instead of maybe 2 years as we have seen in the past, this bill will create efficiencies.

“5 years of certainty for industry, for state DOTs, and for operators of transit services and rail; it is a good thing all the way around,” said Cranson.

Nationwide, the bill provides the largest funding in U.S. history to address climate change, $47 billion for climate resilience and $65 billion for clean energy and the grid.

“I have been working in this field for a very long time and for all of those years I have had to fight climate deniers. I am not doing that anymore. You know why? Because people can see and taste and feel that the world has changed. They know it is time to invest,” said President Joe Biden’s Climate Change Advisor Gina McCarthy.

McCarthy tells 7 Action News it will benefiting our automakers, providing $110 million to Michigan for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“We are talking about having an infrastructure that allows everyone to feel comfortable moving to an EV future,” said McCarthy.

Senator Gary Peters’ Storm Act was rolled into the bill, funding $500 million in loans to help communities respond to climate change, such as for infrastructure to prevent floods or address Great Lakes erosion.

The bill provides $1 billion for public transportation, $1.3 billion for water infrastructure, such as replacing lead pipes, and $100 million to expand broadband internet, which the Detroit Regional Chamber says that will help businesses grow.

“14% of Michigan residents don’t have broadband internet in their homes. This is going to greatly expand our ability to provide broadband internet,” said Brad Williams, Vice President of Government Relations at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The bill does have Michigan critics.

Republican Representative Peter Meijer says he wanted to see regulations to ensure we are not overcharged on road projects.

And Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib wanted to see it passed only with the larger Biden Build Back Better Act, which she says would address air pollution in southwest Detroit and fund social programs such as paid family leave.

“You can’t say, ‘hey, we are going to get you internet, but then dirty air.’ You can’t have people choose between those two kind of investments. You need both,” said Rep. Tlaib.

It really was a bipartisan compromise bill focusing on more traditional infrastructure. The question now is what else Democrats will be able to pass in the rest of the Biden plan.

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