Breaking News
More () »

'Driving on third world roads': Michigan business leaders call on Congress to pass infrastructure plan

7,300 miles of Michigan roads are in poor condition.

With the Senate passing President Joe Biden's Infrastructure Plan, the vote moves on to the house. But the billions of dollars in funding are far from guaranteed. 

Wednesday morning, Chamber of Commerce representatives from local, state, and national levels made their stance clear: pass the bill.

"When you pick somebody up at the airport and they're traveling on third-world roads...," Andy Johnston, Vice President of Government and Corporate Affairs with the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce said, "It's not the kind of recruitment we want in our region."

Johnston isn't alone in feeling that way, and the numbers back up his claim of poor conditions. 

Across the state, at least 7,300 miles of road are considered to be in poor condition. 1,219 bridges are considered deficient. If passed, the state would get $7.3 billion for road repairs, and more than $500 million for bridges.

"it doesn't really do much for us in terms of routine maintenance," said Steve Warren with the Kent County Road Commission. He says 75% of federal funding gets used by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the other quarter falling to municipalities and counties. 

"We can't use those federal dollars." 

Warren says the influx of federal funding will be used for big-ticket projects. Think US-131 construction, Interstate repairs and large-scale expansion projects. 

When it comes to potholes, that's going to come from local budgets.

But those big-ticket projects are exactly what Johnston and his fellow Chamber representatives are looking for. To keep up with an expanding population, large-scale improvements are necessary. 

"You can't support the great talent you need to be successful without the infrastructure underneath," Johnston said. 

In addition to the money for bridges and roads, the infrastructure plan will include funding to improve drinking water systems and expand access to broadband internet in rural areas. 

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out