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Michigan closes on first sale of bonds to "fix the damn roads"

A warning from Ann Arbor Road workers.
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
A warning from Ann Arbor Road workers.

Michigan has closed on a sale of $800 million in bonds to rebuild some of the most traveled highways in the state.

Michigan Department of Transportation officials say the money will allow the rebuilding of the roads, rather than resurfacing, starting with a $60 million project already in progress on I-496 west of Lansing.

It's the first of an expected $3.5 billion in bond issuances after the Republican-controlled state Legislature turned down Governor Gretchen Whitmer's request for a 45-cent per gallon fuel tax increase last year for roads.  

In a press release, Whitmer said, “For too long, our freeways have been held together with patches and emergency repairs. The Rebuilding Michigan program assures Michiganders across the state that they can drive to work and drop their kids at school on safe and reliable roads for many decades to come. It has also allowed us to start moving dirt this year, without an increase at the gas pump.”

Whitmer ran on a campaign promise to, as she put it, "fix the damn roads." Whitmer received unanimous approval from the Michigan State Transportation Commission in January to authorize the sale of the bonds, also over Republican leaders' objections. 

The money can only be used for major highways, though, so some local roads could continue to be in rough shape.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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