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Infrastructure law funds replacement of bridge connecting Michigan to global business

The 135-year-old Manistee River Bridge will be upgraded to transport modern railway trains.

By Oliver Willis - October 02, 2023
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Railroad crossing
A CSX freight train runs through a crossing in Homestead, Pa., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Sept. 25 that it would be investing up to $20.3 million to finance a project to replace the Manistee River Bridge, located in Manton, Michigan. The funds for the project will come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

President Joe Biden signed the legislation in November 2021, authorizing $1.2 trillion for the repair, upkeep and construction of roads, bridges, and public transportation systems (including buses and cars) across the country. The law also invests in broadband internet services, the creation of a network of electric vehicle chargers, and the cleanup of rivers and lakes.

According to the department, the bridge, which was built in 1888, has many components in poor and critical condition. The new funds will retrofit the bridge so it can support 286,000-pound rail cars and maintain rail service used by shippers in Michigan’s northwest lower peninsula.

The Michigan project is one of 70 rail improvement projects the department said it is funding. Thirty-five states and Washington, D.C., will see upgrades to rail infrastructure through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program.

“Replacing this structure will ensure today’s heavier freight railroad cars will be able to cross the bridge and that there will be no disruptions to northern Michigan supply chains,” Michigan Department of Transportation director Bradley Wieferich said in a statement.

Michigan Democratic Sens Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow praised the department’s decision in a joint press release.

“Replacement of the Manistee Bridge will create jobs, improve rail safety, and provide our shipping companies with a more efficient rail connection to partners both regionally and globally,” Peters said.

Stabenow said passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has allowed the federal government to invest in critical infrastructure projects that have needed upgrades for years.

“This investment is especially important because it will create jobs and bolster economic growth across northern Michigan communities,” she said.

Both Stabenow and Peters backed the infrastructure legislation when it was being debated in Congress, along with the rest of Michigan’s Democratic representatives. Six of the seven Republicans representing Michigan in the House voted against the bill, with Rep. Fred Upton the only vote in favor. Upton announced his retirement from Congress before the 2022 midterm elections.

Rep. Bill Huizenga was among those who voted against the legislation and complained in a Nov. 2021 release that the bill was part of a deal between Biden, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and “far-left members of their caucus.”

“I will not support legislation that spends more than necessary and opens the door for trillions upon trillions of spending on liberal and socialist priorities,” Huizenga said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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