MDOT budget took a slight cut, but officials are pleased with list of projects

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan lawmakers have signed off on Gov. Whitmer’s $62.75 billion state budget -- and for the most part severe cuts have been avoided.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is happy with the recommended budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. MDOT Communications Director Jeff Cranson said the budget took a little hit this year, but about $1 billion worth of projects are slated for this upcoming season.

“Overall, the capital outlay for MDOT is probably $73 million off of the originally recommendation back in February when we thought revenues would be more than 2019, not less,” he said. “But its pretty close to what we spend last year.”

The state’s recommended budget will provide an additional $205 million for road and bridge construction and just over $7.5 million to covering increasing costs for materials. This is all in addition to the millions of dollars already promised in the Rebuilding Michigan plan.

MDOT is adding or accelerating 122 freeway and highway projects over the next five years with $3.5 billion in loans. The first series of bonds sold this summer to fund the first group of projects, including a total rebuild of I-69 from Fenton Road to Dort Highway in Flint.

“It’s a matter of where the money goes and obviously those projects were already predetermined,” Cranson said. “But because of that money -- money that would have been programed otherwise for those big freeway projects -- it can be moved to some smaller projects we can accelerate.”

The future of Bay City’s Lafayette Bridge over the Saginaw River remains unknown. A major replacement project planned for this year was delayed for further study after costs ballooned well beyond the budget.

“What we’re going to see in 2021 is some full analysis coming back on what our options are in terms of the existing structure,” said MDOT spokeswoman Jocelyn Hall.

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