By ANNA LIZ NICHOLS
Associated Press/Report for America
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is investing more than $4.7 billion to improve infrastructure, including drinking water upgrades, internet access and fixing roads, bridges and dams.
The spending plan includes some of the biggest infrastructure investments in state history, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday before signing the bipartisan legislation in Grand Rapids. About $4 billion comes from federal funds, including COVID-19 recovery funds and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The spending plan includes more than $2 billion to be invested in clean drinking water, wastewater and other water infrastructure projects.
Midland and Gladwin counties will receive $210 million for dam repairs and another $40 million will be used to address dam repairs and removals elsewhere in the state.
Dam failures in Midland and Gladwin counties resulted in 10,000 people being evacuated from their homes as floodwaters from torrential rain brought destruction to the area in spring 2020.
The plan also includes $325 million to replace lead service lines, a portion of which will be used to remove all lead service lines in Benton Harbor, which reported elevated levels of lead in its water.
Michigan also plans to spend $250 million to expand internet connectivity.
Transportation is getting a $645 million investment to improve bridges, roads and public transportation among other things. Whitmer said 19 road projects are already slotted under the infrastructure plan to be built in the next few years.
The plan allocates $450 million for state and local parks to reinvigorate tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic limited travel. Detroit is getting a $60 million investment to build the Joe Louis Greenway, a trail system of nearly 30 miles for walking and biking.
The state expects its $200 million investment in state parks to yield $800 million in economic benefits for local communities by breathing new life into tourism and recreation, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
Tenants and landlords continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic so the state is using $383 million for COVID Emergency Rental Assistance to manage the financial blow on both.