Zorn cosponsors plan to fix over 400 bridges, increase railroad crossing safety

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Wednesday cosponsored new Senate legislation to use over $1.6 billion in federal funding to repair all Michigan bridges listed in severe condition and enhance safety at rail crossings in the state.

“As more Michigan businesses and manufacturers use trains to transport their products and materials, roadway crossings can become more dangerous and delays caused by trains blocking the road can increase,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “Along with the rail separation measures I introduced in May, this plan puts $126 million into helping support local businesses, reduce emergency response times and virtually eliminate the chances for vehicles colliding with a train.”

Senate Bill 529 would use $126 million in federal recovery funds to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways.

The funding works with Zorn’s Local Grade Separation Grant Program bills. SB 425 would create a new program to provide state matching funds for local governments and the rail industry to transform a local roadway crossing so that road traffic would travel either over or under the railroad. SB 426 would establish a scoring system for determining which rail projects to fund, and SB 427 would create the Local Grade Separation Fund to reserve funds for these projects.

According to preliminary Federal Railroad Administration statistics, Michigan ranked 15th worst in the U.S. in 2020 for the number of collisions, injuries and fatalities at highway-rail crossings.

SB 529 would also use $1.5 billion in federal recovery funds to fix bridges across the state in severe condition. Of the nearly 12,000 bridges in Michigan, 7,038 are managed by local municipalities. Of that number, over 400 are in critical need of repairs. SB 529 would fund repairs for all of the bridges in severe condition.

“The MI Safe Drive plan represents a huge commitment to ensure we take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of the Michigan people,” Zorn said. “Under this plan, we would build on our previous road funding efforts, improve the safety of our roads and fix our aging bridges — all without asking struggling families and businesses to pay more in taxes.”