Zorn supports $1.6B transportation infrastructure plan

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Dale Zorn on Thursday voted to invest $1.6 billion in federal recovery funding to repair Michigan bridges listed in severe condition, support local roads and enhance safety at rail crossings in the state.

“We owe it to the people of Michigan to wisely use our state’s federal recovery funds to make long-term investments that improve their lives,” said Zorn, R-Ida. “This transportation infrastructure funding would fix hundreds of aging bridges throughout Michigan — including more than 20 in Monroe and Lenawee counties. If finalized, this plan would be a historic commitment to improve the safety of our roads for families, workers and tourists.”

Senate Bill 529 would use $1.3 billion in federal recovery funds to fix bridges across the state in severe condition through bundling, where the design and construction of multiple projects around the state are contracted at the same time. 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 the bridges in severe condition.

The bill also includes over $195 million to cover local road agency revenue losses and $126 million to improve safety at several intersections between railways and roadways.

The funding would work with Zorn’s Local Grade Separation Grant 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.

Michigan has over 4,000 rail crossings with public highways within the state, and in 2020, was ranked the 15th worst in the nation for the total number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities at highway-rail crossings.

“Combined with the rail separation measures I introduced in May, this funding plan would help support local businesses, reduce emergency response times and virtually eliminate collisions with vehicles and trains,” Zorn said.

SB 529 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.