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Whitmer issues directive to speed up infrastructure permitting

The Detroit News
Riley Beggin
June 1

Mackinac Island — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive Wednesday to accelerate permitting for infrastructure projects of $50 million or more.

The rule directs state agencies to create publicly available schedules for permitting and review their plans to identify areas to streamline the process.

“We’re going to continue to work incredibly hard to make sure that we move forward the two most crucial elements in any construction project: dirt and paperwork,” Whitmer said. “We’re going to move fast.”

She cited as an example a project announced earlier this year that aims to replace Interstate 375 in Detroit, which destroyed the Black neighborhoods of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley when it was built in the 1960s, with a boulevard that could reconnect the area with the rest of the city.

Whitmer said permitting improvements will be made “without short-changing any environmental protection or diminishing our important safety standards.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appeared with Whitmer as she announced the new policy and said the state is well-poised to take advantage of funding approved last year through the infrastructure law.

“Michigan’s not waiting on the federal government, and the federal government is not waiting on anybody else,” Buttigieg said. “We are delivering quickly for the people that we serve together.”

Whitmer said this summer will the busiest summer yet due to the new appropriations.

Michigan is expected to receive $7.8 billion over five years in federal formula funding for highways and bridges, $169 million to reduce transportation emissions, and $192 million to increase the resilience of transportation systems, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

It will also be able to compete for $12.5 billion for “economically significant bridges” and $15 billion for megaprojects that will deliver substantial economic benefits, among other federal grant programs.

rbeggin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @rbeggin