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Senate committee approves legislation addressing Michigan infrastructure needs

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee on Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by state Sens. Ken Horn, Jeremy Moss and Wayne Schmidt that would allow municipalities to enter a public-private partnership to improve aging infrastructure. 

“Michigan’s infrastructure has been suffering for years, and I’m happy to partner with Bay City to offer this creative solution to address an issue that affects the entire Great Lakes Bay Region,” said Horn, R-Frankenmuth. “The bills seek to resolve a longstanding problem by allowing local governments across the state to address their unique infrastructure needs.”

Senate Bills 1215-1218 would allow a municipality to enter into a public-private partnership, allowing for private investment to help with management of local bridges. While there is no specific municipality identified in the legislation, it was introduced with Bay City in mind.

The two bridges in Bay City have been in dire need of repair for years but the costs far outweigh what is feasible from the local level. Temporary bridge closures have shown that a permanent closure resulting from poor maintenance would be catastrophic not only for traffic volumes and public safety in the area, but for the region’s economy as well.

The bills have seen broad support from local stakeholders throughout the region.

“Bay City has been working for years to find a solution to repair two of the four major bridges that cross the river in the city. The region and state’s economic success relies on a safe and reliable infrastructure that starts with roads and bridges,” Horn said. “Unfortunately, especially after revenues have been even further affected by COVID-19, the city’s repair needs are beyond available funding at all levels of government. These bills would alleviate some of that burden on local governments and the state budget while securing a major economic route for our region.”

Moss echoed many of Horn’s sentiments, stating the crucial need for innovative transportation solutions across the state.

“We are enduring a disruptive pandemic that is both accelerating financial hardships on local communities and delaying needed investments to our crumbling infrastructure. As all Michiganders know, our broken roads and bridges still need to be fixed,” said Moss, D-Southfield. “These bills offer a new and creative tool for local municipalities to fix bridges while maintaining strong community oversight of each project — which will keep our cities thriving and accessible.”

Schmidt agreed that we need to have thoughtful solutions to the state’s diverse infrastructure needs, especially as the state battles back against the coronavirus pandemic.

“This could be a helpful tool as local governments attempt to address their individual needs,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Our budget is hurting, and revenues are down, but that doesn’t stop wear and tear on our roads and bridges. We need to find a way to address these immediate needs, and this is a good start to picking back up on the infrastructure repairs we began prior to COVID-19.”

SBs 1215-1218 will now move to the full Senate for further consideration.