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Michigan receives federal grant to expand MDOT bridge bundling program

MDOT expects bridge bundling, which covers several projects under one contract, to streamline coordination and permitting, increase economies of scale, and improve bridge conditions on local routes.
MDOT logo and Michigan map over bridge photo.
MDOT logo and Michigan map over bridge photo.(WLUC)
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 10:54 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Governor Gretchen Whitmer Friday announced that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) received nearly $978,000 from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to expand the state’s bridge bundling efforts on local agency routes.

“Investing in infrastructure creates good-paying jobs, supports working families and communities, and drives our economy forward,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am grateful for the support from our federal partners who recognize Michigan’s potential to lead in this space. This critical investment will create jobs and work in tandem with our Michigan Economic Jumpstart plan to ensure we continue our economic comeback as we emerge from the pandemic. Michigan can become a national leader in infrastructure. Let’s fix the damn roads together.”

“We need to build our economy back better than ever before,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a release announcing the grants. “These grants support innovative and cost-effective new approaches to delivering safe, high quality transportation projects for the American people.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced more than $5.6 million in Accelerated Innovated Deployment (AID) Demonstration program grants to seven states on May 26. The AID Demonstration program assists states in implementing innovative practices. This grant was one of only seven awarded nationwide.

MDOT expects bridge bundling, which covers several bridge construction projects under one contract, to streamline coordination and permitting, increase economies of scale, and improve bridge conditions on local routes around the state. The program groups or “bundles” several bridges into one contract using criteria such as proximity, environmental factors, type of work, external coordination required, or complexity. MDOT is working to expand the approach, already in use on state trunkline projects, to address locally owned bridges.

“This AID grant funding to further our local agency bridge bundling project represents national validation of our approach,” said Matt Chynoweth, MDOT’s Chief Bridge Engineer. “MDOT is concerned with the safety and adequacy not only of trunkline bridges, but with all of these publicly used structures in Michigan.”

By combining several contracts into one, bridge bundling allows one contractor, or one group of contractors, to work on all the bridges, Chynoweth explained. This can bring taxpayer savings through the sharing of equipment and mobilization costs.

One key component of the bridge bundling plan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer put forward a plan to allocate $300 million under her executive budget recommendation to expand the state’s bridge bundling program to repair or replace hundreds of additional local bridges that are closed or in critical condition.

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