GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in Grand Rapids Monday evening touting her budget plan, which includes raising $2.5 billion annually for road and bridge work with a 45-cents-a-gallon gas tax.
Whitmer used the bridge on US-131 as a launch pad to push her budget proposal, which has not been passed by the Michigan legislature.
"I'm here to highlight this bridge behind me," she said. "As you can see, this is 131. This is the busiest road in Grand Rapids that people are traveling every day."
The governor said that Michigan has a $2.5 billion infrastructure problem that she says can be solved through her budget proposal.
"Michiganders are known for innovation and grit and doing the right thing and working hard. The legislature should live up to those same values and get this budget done."
The US-131 bridge that Whitmer visited is considered by the Michigan Department of Transportation to be in fair condition at a rating of 5. But the governor said as water seeps into cracks, MDOT has to constantly check the bridge's condition.
"For relation four would be poor, so if it dropped one more rating it would be a poor bridge," says an MDOT official.
Whitmer also pushed for Michigan lawmakers to approve her budget proposal to unlock school funding for the upcoming year.
"I feel the urgency. I’ve got kids in our public schools," she said, before pivoting back to infrastructure funding. "I know how critical our bridge situation is. What keeps me up at night is bridge failure. It’s possible, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid."
The governor also pointed to drinking water problems in Plainfield Township, Flint and Oscoda County.
"We’ve got drinking water problems across the state," she said.
But the governor's main message was about securing funding to fix roads and bridges, which was the focus of her 2018 campaign.
"This is 40 years of disinvestment. We have to get serious about fixing it or it’s going to get more dangerous and more expensive," she said.
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