Senator Stabenow Outlines Priorities for Michigan in Federal Infrastructure Package

Monday, January 29, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today sent a letter to President Trump outlining important priorities for Michigan that should be included in any federal infrastructure package developed by Congress or the Trump Administration. Stabenow pointed to the critical needs of Michigan’s roads and bridges, water and sewer systems, broadband network, harbors on the Great Lakes and the Soo Locks. She also underscored that projects funded through any upcoming infrastructure proposal should follow Buy American requirements and include protections for American workers. 


“When we invest in Michigan’s roads, bridges, harbors, and communities, we invest in Michigan’s future,” said Senator Stabenow. “It’s time to get serious about investments that grow our economy, make sure our water is safe to drink, and help create good Michigan jobs.”


The full text of Senator Stabenow’s letter to President Trump may be found below.


January 29, 2018



President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President,


            As you continue to develop an infrastructure package for Congress to consider, I write to offer recommendations on federal investments that would help Michigan’s economy, spur new high-paying jobs, enhance public safety, and improve quality of life in rural and urban communities throughout our state.


Well-maintained roads and bridges are vital for people to work and to bring goods to market. Unfortunately, years of inadequate investment have left critical surface infrastructure in disrepair.  In Michigan, 20% of all public roads are in poor condition, costing drivers $540 in annual repair costs to keep their vehicles running. At the same time, over 1,200 bridges in Michigan are structurally deficient. Any infrastructure proposal must include robust federal investments to fix our roads and bridges, not privatization schemes that benefit a few companies at the expense of taxpayers.


Just as our roads and bridges need upgrades and repairs, so too does the water infrastructure system that we depend on for safe and clean drinking water. The Flint water crisis may be the most visible reminder of the serious public health consequences from neglecting drinking water infrastructure, but drinking water systems in communities of all sizes across Michigan require much needed capital investment.  Over the next 20 years, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly $14 billion in investments is needed just to maintain drinking water systems in Michigan. Additionally, in 2017, Michigan had a $100 million backlog of clean water projects in line for USDA’s Rural Development water programs. Robust funding for EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and financing programs administered by USDA Rural Development is critical to ensuring clean and affordable drinking water.


Significant federal investments are also needed to address our aging sewer and wastewater networks.  On Christmas Eve in 2016, a sewer pipe leak resulted in a 100-foot wide, 250-foot long sinkhole in a neighborhood in Macomb County.  The rupture resulted in the evacuation of 22 homes and the closure of roads for months.  Across Michigan, many sewer lines are rapidly aging, and according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, more than $2 billion in upgrades are needed to maintain the state’s wastewater infrastructure. Moreover, failing wastewater infrastructure in Michigan and in states across the region results in tens of billions of gallons of raw or poorly treated sewage flowing into the Great Lakes.


Additional resources are also required to maintain the Great Lakes navigation system, which encompasses 140 federal harbors, over 600 miles of navigation channels, and three locks and dams – including the critically important Soo Locks complex in Sault St. Marie, Michigan that requires $115 million in maintenance and nearly a billion dollars to ensure its long-term viability. According to a recent study by the Department of Treasury, a $600 million investment to modernize the Soo Locks could provide an economic benefit of more than $1.7 billion. At the same time, funding is needed to dredge Michigan’s shallow-draft harbors that are critical to recreational navigation, public safety, and the economies of Michigan’s local communities. 


            As we fund projects to maintain and improve waterway navigation, it is equally important to provide federal resources to protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species such as Asian carp. This starts with funding to upgrade the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a critical choke point in the Illinois River, with measures to stop Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.  Proactive efforts to stop Asian Carp at Brandon Road will prevent catastrophic damages to our multi-billion dollar recreational fishing and boating industries, and in the long term, save the federal government untold amounts of money to fight Asian carp if they are allowed to populate our Lakes. In addition, as we improve our infrastructure, we should not roll back protections for the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute $10 billion in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region.


Another infrastructure priority that is often overlooked is broadband access. Over 34 million Americans, including 23 million rural Americans, do not have internet service available to them at an adequate speed and quality. In Michigan, over 1 million people do not have access to high-speed internet.  Broadband is not a luxury – every Michigan business owner, farmer, student, hospital, and family deserves access to high-speed internet. Any infrastructure proposal must include robust funding for high-speed internet.   


All infrastructure projects funded through this proposal should also adhere to strong Buy America requirements and include protections for American workers such as prevailing wage. These steps will ensure that taxpayer dollars are used to create jobs in Michigan and across the country.


Thank you for your consideration of these requests. I stand ready to work with you in a bipartisan fashion to help fund infrastructure investments that are critical to the State of Michigan and the entire country.