Feds award $20M infrastructure grant to Flint

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — President Barack Obama's administration is making $20 million available to Flint for transportation projects that will be completed while the city is replacing pipelines as part of fallout from the city's lead-tainted water crisis.

White House officials said the funding will pay for half of a $40 million project that calls for rebuilding "portions of arterial roadways, including sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signals, signage and lighting, and includes a road diet, replacing an existing traffic lane with non-motorized travel lanes" while Flint is reconstructing contaminated water lines.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said the project “reconstructs roads that are currently in poor condition and replaces traffic signals with out of date technology.”

The transportation department added the money for Flint would help officials use “traffic calming techniques to slow down vehicle speeds, and provides dedicated facilities for bicycles.”

DOT officials said the funding would also help Flint finance upgrades for “sidewalks and sidewalk ramps to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards” and manage “pedestrian-vehicle conflicts with new traffic signal timing.”

The funding comes from the DOT’s 2016 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which was created by the 2009 economic stimulus bill. The TIGER program allows states to apply for funding for transportation projects that "will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region," according to the DOT's website.

The grant program has been popular with both Republicans and Democrats, and it has expanded in subsequent transportation funding bills.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the funding for Flint is part of a group of 40 infrastructure projects in 32 states that are being awarded a total of $500 million this year.

“For the eighth year running, TIGER will inject critical infrastructure dollars into communities across the country,” Foxx said in a statement. “This unique program rewards innovative thinking and collaborative solutions to difficult and sometimes dangerous transportation problems. A great TIGER program doesn’t just improve transportation; it expands economic opportunity and transforms a community.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, applauded the Obama administration and DOT for their support of Flint.

"This funding comes at a crucial time and will help to rebuild Flint’s infrastructure from the ground up,” Kildee said in a Friday statement. “Replacing the water mains and completing much needed road repairs is a vital step in the process of Flint’s recovery.”

Michigan congressional Democrats praised the Obama administration for including Flint in the latest round of infrastructure grant funding.

“Today's announcement is great news and an important step in fixing and replacing Flint’s water infrastructure,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, in a statement.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, added: “Families in Flint are still living without access to safe, clean water and they need assistance to recover from this man-made disaster. This $20 million grant provides critical resources to help the City of Flint repair roads as they work to replace the damaged water infrastructure, keeping Flint on the path to recovery.”

DOT officials said Flint will reduce costs for the infrastructure overhaul “by completing the project at the same it replaces underlying water transmission lines.”


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Twitter: @Keith_Laing