On Friday, November 5th, 2021, Congress voted to pass a $1.2 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill and President Biden signed it into law on Monday, November 15th, 2021. The bill, officially referred to as House Resolution 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, has been labeled “monumental” and called a “once-in-a-generation” investment by individuals from both sides of the political aisle. (Footnote 1) This investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure items is long overdue, and it presents an opportunity to improve the built environment around us all.
Michiganders understand that our state would benefit from this level of investment. According to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, 40% of Michigan’s major roads are in poor condition, along with about 1,000 bridges throughout the state. Similarly, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), about 33% of Southeast Michigan’s stormwater and drinking water infrastructure is in poor condition.(Footnote 2)
But how will this new law actually work? Let’s dig a little deeper and see what this legislation could mean for the State of Michigan. A recent article in the Detroit Free Press says that the State of Michigan can expect about $10 billion dollars in funding for infrastructure projects as outlined in the adjacent graphic.(Footnote 3)
Now that the bill has been signed into law, the next step will be for individual federal departments to prepare and share “detailed spend plans”, with a due date usually set as a few months after the bill is signed into law. (Footnote 4)
Depending on the department, the bill specifies that detailed spend plans shall be sent to the appropriate department head 60 to 90 days from the passage of the legislation, depending on the section and the department that is receiving funding.
While there are myriad different programs and grants within this bill, there are a few notable line items that relate to NTH’s field of expertise. These include:
The new law includes $4 billion to address PFAS and drinking water contaminants, awarded as loans with 100 percent forgiveness or loans alone.
An additional $1 billion would be allocated to address emerging contaminants provided as loans with 100 percent forgiveness or as grants.
NTH recently offered a webinar on this emerging issue that can be found here.
"Complete Streets” streetscape design
The law includes $5 billion for a new “Safe Streets and Roads for All” grant. States and municipalities can apply for funds to implement road safety measures for all users, including automobiles, bicyclists, and pedestrians of all mobility levels.
In 2021, NTH received a Merit Award for Engineering from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC/M) for the Livernois Streetscape project in Detroit, Michigan. This project consisted of upgrading a three-lane roadway in each direction from Right-of-Way to Right-of-Way. The new design featured separated bike lanes, bioretention areas, larger sidewalks, and updated pedestrian crossing signals.
As mentioned above, this new law includes $1 billion each year for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
NTH has completed many seawall and shoreline engineering and design projects, and recently offered a webinar on this issue that can be found here.