Runestad champions $1.3B plan to fix Michigan bridges

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad on Thursday celebrated the Senate’s passage of the MI Safe Drive plan, a bill that would allow $1.3 billion in federal funding to be used for Michigan bridges listed in severe condition.

Fourteen bridges located in Oakland County are rated poorly and could be marked for repair under the MI Safe Drive plan. Six of those bridges cross the Novi-Lyons Drain and Huron River within the boundaries of the 15th District, which is represented by Runestad, R-White Lake.

The plan, enacted through Senate Bill 529, and cosponsored by Runestad, would use $1.3 billion in federal recovery funds to repair locally managed bridges in severe condition through bundling, where the design and construction of multiple projects around the state are contracted at the same time.

“Each day, many Michigan families have to drive across bridges that are in serious need of repair,” Runestad said. “Instead of using additional federal dollars to increase the size and scope of government, the MI Safe Drive plan would invest a large part of our federal recovery funds into improving the safety of our roads by fixing all of our most severe local bridges.

“By improving the safety of these vital roadways, we will provide the people of Michigan with a long-term positive return on their federal tax dollars. Additionally, we will be able to free up local funds to fix more local roads.”

The bill also includes over $195 million to cover local road agency revenue losses and $126 million in federal money to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways. Michigan has over 4,000 rail crossings with public highways within the state. In 2020, the state 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 or in some cases eliminate train-vehicle interactions through grade separation at crossings throughout the state.

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