NewsGetting Around Metro Detroit


Local road agencies fear little money will be left for them from infrastructure bill

Posted at 5:33 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 06:29:56-05

(WXYZ) — Since the passage of President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill, conversations are now shifting to where that money is going.

Metro Detroit community leaders have a warning – the price tag sounds good – but they don't expect to be left with much.

The state recently announced a little more than $563 million over the next five years to fix bridges, made possible through the passage of the infrastructure bill. It's the largest investment ever in Michigan bridges. However, the roads and bridges on your local roads will only see a sliver of that money.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said people are right to be skeptical about the money.

"There is an assumption everything is going to get fixed when we know that is not the case. What they are doing is fooling the public," he said.

Under Michigan Law Act 51, 75% of the $563 million intended for bridges will go to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

That leaves only 25% for the local road entities, like the Macomb County Department of Roads.

"If there is that 25% to the locals, meaning 83 counties and over 500 municipalities, that is very insignificant," Hackel said.

25% of $563 million is around $1.6 million per county, if distributed evenly. Putting that money into perspective, it costs Macomb County around $2 million to fix one two-lane bridge.

"Right now, I have 41 bridges that need to be replaced in Macomb County alone," Hackel said.

The budget for road fixes in Macomb County this year is $63 million.

According to an MDOT spokesperson, the regional bridge council, made up of local agency employees, will decide how that 25% is distributed.

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who voted in favor of the bill, said she is working with local entities to make sure the money is distributed fairly.

"I have been very clear. I have been meeting with my mayors for the last two years, on an almost weekly basis, identifying what the needs are and how we work together to make sure that we are getting the dollars that are needed, and also telling the state they need to work with us as these plans are developed," she said.

This isn't to say the money won't have an impact at all. According to MDOT, they will be able to replace 24 bridges and help rehabilitate 129 bridges.

Hackel just hopes maybe this sparks a conversation on how to fund fixes for local roads.