U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow Visits Sault Ste. Marie, Discusses Highway Funding and Job Creation
The $286 billion transportation funding bill approved by Congress last week will create more than 61,500 jobs in Michigan and provides $2 million for the West Portage Avenue realignment and another $6 million for I-75 construction down to the U.S. 2 intersection at St. Ignace, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said today.
Stabenow was in town today to meet with local officials and talk about highway projects for Sault Ste. Marie and Michigan in the multi-year transportation bill.
"More a year ago, Spencer Nebel asked me to come here to see why the city needed $2 million to realign West Portage Avenue," Stabenow said. "I made that visit and then I went back to Washington and fought to have the funds included in this transportation bill," Stabenow said.
"Both these projects - the West Portage Avenue work and the I-75 reconstruction - are important for local travel and commerce as well as for international travel through the area," Stabenow said. "I am pleased to be able to announce funding for this work."
"There are many demands for the limited federal funding that is available for projects such as this," said Anthony Bosbous, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie. "I am very grateful for the diligent effort of Senator Stabenow and our other federal representatives, Senator Levin and Representative Stupak, for securing the funding for this important project."
The West Portage Avenue relocation project will be a benefit to the residents and visitors of Sault Ste. Marie," said City Manager Spencer Nebel. "This road relocation will address safety and security concerns affecting the general public and the employees who will be working in the new Border Patrol Station. With the relocation funding in place, the City will be able to proceed with the long planned reconstruction of West Portage Avenue."
Stabenow said the bill approved by Congress and sent to the president is a multi-year bill that will give Michigan an average of $1.123 billion per year in transportation funding over the next several years, an increase of $239 billion bill per year from the bill approved in 1998.
She noted that the increase in overall transportation money was due in part to a bi-partisan amendment that she and Senator Jim Talent succeeding in attaching to the budget bill, which increased the overall amount available for the Highway Bill by $11 billion.
She also said that as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, she was able to include an additional $164.4 million in earmarks for bus and rail transportation.
But while work on Michigan roads is essential, job creation is also vital to the state, and the new bill will do just that, she said.
"The Department of Transportation estimates that every $1 billion of highway spending creates $47,500 new jobs and generates more than $2 billion in economic activity. This bill will create more than 65,000 jobs in Michigan alone - as many as 43 of them right here in the Sault," Stabenow said.
She noted that the jobs created won't merely be minimum-wage jobs. "We're talking about good-paying jobs that can help Michigan families pay their mortgages, save for retirement, and pay for their children's college tuition costs," Stabenow said.
Stabenow visited Sault Ste. Marie as the first stop on a month-long "jobs tour" of the Upper Peninsula and the rest of the state.