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Local News

Whitmer signs $4.8B infrastructure deal, highlights parks funding

Credit: iStock

by Laina G. Stebbins, Michigan Advance
March 30, 2022

Following the GOP-led Legislature’s adoption last week of a massive, nearly $5 billion supplemental infrastructure plan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sealed the deal Wednesday by signing the two-bill package in downtown Grand Rapids.

The “Building Michigan Together Plan,” composed of Senate Bill 565 and House Bill 5525, puts forward some of the largest infrastructure investments in Michigan history, per Whitmer’s office.

“With this plan, we’re building on our work to improve our roads, water, and high-speed internet,” Whitmer said Wednesday. “I’m particularly proud of the fact that this plan makes the single largest investment in Michigan history in our state and local parks, empowering hundreds of local economies.

“I am grateful to our congressional delegation for sending us these resources and proud that the Michigan Legislature and I were able to come together to get this done and ensure our infrastructure is reliable for generations to come,” she added.

SB 565 largely uses leftover state and federal COVID-19 funds to invest $2.5 billion statewide, with more than half of those dollars going toward water infrastructure initiatives. Highlights of the main bill include:

  • $1.3 billion for sewer and water infrastructure needs
  • $646 million in Michigan’s infrastructure
  • $450 million in state and local parks
  • $250.6 million for broadband service infrastructure in underserved areas
  • $150 million for housing initiatives

At the bill signing in Grand Rapids, Whitmer emphasized that a chunk of the money will go toward projects like the city’s Grand River Greenway. The greenway will receive $55 million to further expand into Kent County and Grand Rapids.

“For years we have envisioned the expansion of our riverfront park system and linking all of our riverfront green spaces together with a recreational trail that also connects regionally. This substantial investment from the state will allow us to do just that,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said Wednesday. “It will transform public spaces throughout our community, which will have far reaching social, recreational and economic benefits for generations to come.” 

Similar projects include Detroit’s Joe Louis Greenway, which will receive $60 million for development; and $20 million toward a variety of rural outdoor recreation projects in the Upper Peninsula, including a new ski jump at Copper Peak.

The second part of the supplemental package, HB 5525, would put $133 million toward strengthening Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance system and tackling fraud.

The plan also puts $46 million toward protecting funding for public safety and first responders in areas with population losses.

The bipartisan deal received praise Wednesday from U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.); U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Dan Kildee (D-Flint), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield); and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), among others on both sides of the aisle.

“This bipartisan plan will take once-in-a-generation federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and invest it in rebuilding our infrastructure, growing our economy, and creating good-paying jobs in Michigan’s 12th district and across our great state,” Dingell said.

“Michigan is setting an example to the nation that when we work together we can solve real problems hard working Americans face, and I look forward to seeing the results of this transformative investment.” 

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

Laina G. Stebbins is a contributor for the Michigan Advance, where this story first appeared.