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Two Years of IIJA Investments Fuel Growth Across Michigan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New Lock at the Soo project remains on schedule as major construction continues with phases 2 and 3 in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Kokosing Alberici Traylor)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New Lock at the Soo project remains on schedule as major construction continues with phases 2 and 3 in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Kokosing Alberici Traylor)
Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC, a joint venture headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, began moving major equipment to the New Lock at the Soo project site via a barge in the Poe Lock on November 3, 2022, in between shipping traffic. Mobilization of equipment for Phase 3 marked a big milestone for the project. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Fox)
Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC, a joint venture headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, began moving major equipment to the New Lock at the Soo project site via a barge in the Poe Lock on November 3, 2022, in between shipping traffic. Mobilization of equipment for Phase 3 marked a big milestone for the project. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Fox)
Phase 2 joint venture contractor Kokosing-Alberici mobilized some of their equipment to the New Lock at the Soo site on April 13, 2021, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Fox)
Phase 2 joint venture contractor Kokosing-Alberici mobilized some of their equipment to the New Lock at the Soo site on April 13, 2021, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Fox)
USACE Soo Area Office Area Engineer Kevin Sprague (right) briefs Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon (second from right) about the Detroit District’s Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, during a visit. Spellmon, Command Sergeant Major Patrickson Toussaint, and several others toured the facility and the New Lock at the Soo project currently under construction. (Photo courtesy of Carmen Paris)
USACE Soo Area Office Area Engineer Kevin Sprague (right) briefs Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon (second from right) about the Detroit District’s Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, during a visit. Spellmon, Command Sergeant Major Patrickson Toussaint, and several others toured the facility and the New Lock at the Soo project currently under construction. (Photo courtesy of Carmen Paris)
Trade West Construction, Inc., deepened the upstream channel for the first phase of the New Lock at the Soo project in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Briggs)
Trade West Construction, Inc., deepened the upstream channel for the first phase of the New Lock at the Soo project in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Briggs)
Trade West Construction, Inc., moved equipment onsite for the first phase of the New Lock at the Soo project, deepening the upstream approach in the north canal. (Photo courtesy of Emily Schaefer)
Trade West Construction, Inc., moved equipment onsite for the first phase of the New Lock at the Soo project, deepening the upstream approach in the north canal. (Photo courtesy of Emily Schaefer)
Concrete chamber wall monoliths line an engineering representation of the future New Lock at the Soo in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. A $213.8 million contract, known as Option 1B, was awarded to Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC, of Westerville, Ohio, on December 21, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Fox)
Concrete chamber wall monoliths line an engineering representation of the future New Lock at the Soo in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. A $213.8 million contract, known as Option 1B, was awarded to Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC, of Westerville, Ohio, on December 21, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Carrie Fox)
In November 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure. President Joe Biden’s administration proposed this legislation to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.

Over two years have passed since Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and hundreds of substantial infrastructure improvement projects are already in full swing across the country. Highlighted below are a few of the top-funded projects underway in Michigan.

Investment Highlights
The Biden Administration invested $9.7 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy in Michigan, including:

  • $6.5 billion for transportation investments in roads, bridges, public transit, ports, and airports, as well as electric school and transit buses, electric vehicle charging, and more.
  • $675.9 million for grants, rebates, and other initiatives to accelerate the deployment of clean energy, clean buildings, and clean manufacturing. This is not inclusive of the clean energy tax incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $195.2 million to make communities more resilient to climate change and other threats.
  • $490.4 million to provide clean water across Michigan and improve water infrastructure. This includes $142.5 million dedicated to lead pipe and service line replacement.
Top Projects
New Lock at the Soo, Sault Ste. Marie
IIJA Funding: $478.9 million
Construction Start Date: 2020
End Date: 2030

Located in Sault Ste. Marie between Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Canada’s Ontario province, the Soo Locks enable bulk carrier vessels to safely bypass the swift-moving St. Marys River rapids, where the water drops 21 feet over bedrock in a three-quarter-mile stretch. The St. Marys River is the only connecting waterway between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.

Operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Detroit District, the Soo Locks complete more than 7,000 vessel passages a year, moving up to 75 million tons of cargo, including 95 percent of America’s iron ore, used to manufacture products like automobiles and appliances.

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However, “Of the iron ore that transits the Soo Locks, 88 percent of it is restricted to the Poe Lock due to vessel size,” said Mollie Mahoney, USACE Detroit District New Lock at the Soo Senior Project Manager.

The New Lock at the Soo project is constructing a second Poe-sized lock — 1,200 feet long and 110 feet wide — in the existing footprint of the decommissioned Sabin Lock.

“The Soo Locks are nationally critical infrastructure, and their reliability is essential to U.S. manufacturing and national security,” said Kevin McDaniels, Deputy District Engineer at the USACE Detroit District. “The New Lock at the Soo will provide much-needed resiliency in the Great Lakes navigation system. It will eliminate the single point of failure in our nation’s iron ore supply chain.”

In the project’s first phase, Trade West Construction, Inc., deepened the upstream approach to the new lock from 24 feet to 30 feet deep to accommodate modern vessels. They completed work for their $52 million contract in August 2022.

The joint venture of Kokosing-Alberici was awarded a $117 million contract for phase two. Their work includes rehabilitating and stabilizing the upstream approach walls to allow modern vessels to tie up as they wait their turn to pass through the new lock. Estimated completion for this phase is summer 2024.

For the project’s third phase, USACE awarded the joint venture of Kokosing Alberici Traylor, LLC, a base contract in July 2022 valued at $1.068 billion. That allowed work to begin, with additional contract options awarded over the next three years. At the end of 2023, five options totaling $495.1 million had been awarded and four options totaling $320 million were yet to be awarded.

Work for this final phase includes demolishing the existing Sabin Lock, excavating bedrock, constructing the New Lock at the Soo chamber walls and floor, fabrication and installation of miter gates, installing mechanical and electrical systems, installing the hands-free mooring system, rehabilitating downstream approach walls, and constructing a new pump well. The project’s estimated completion date is summer 2030.

I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project, Detroit
IIJA Funding: $104.6 million
Construction Start Date: 2025
End Date: 2027

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), in partnership with the City of Detroit, plans to convert the sunken Interstate 375 freeway in Detroit to a lower-speed, street-level boulevard with signalized intersections, bike lanes, and pedestrian walkways. In addition, the existing I-75/I-375 interchange will be rebuilt with a smaller footprint and enhanced connectivity. The project’s full construction cost is estimated at $300 million, with federal and state funds supplementing the IIJA grant.

One of the shortest interstates in the country, I-375 covers just one mile, connecting I-75 directly to Jefferson Avenue. When it was built 60 years ago, I-375 divided predominantly Black neighborhoods. Now the aging infrastructure requires costly maintenance.

“As we continue getting things done on the roads, we must take a closer look at the unjust legacy of so many of our freeways,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “This includes I-375, which paved through two prosperous Black neighborhoods decades ago, displacing 130,000 people, hundreds of small businesses, churches, and more. Now, we must build up our state’s infrastructure with equity at the core. While we cannot change the past, we must work harder to build a more just future, and that starts with listening to and engaging with the community and taking deliberate steps to get this done right.”

MDOT is planning a robust Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program and local workforce development initiatives for this project.

“As development has pushed east from downtown and west from Lafayette Park, the barrier that I-375 represents in our city has become even more apparent,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. “Removing the freeway ditch and replacing it with a street-level boulevard will unlock enormous development opportunities. It was Black residents and Black businesses that were hurt when Black Bottom was wiped out, and they were displaced for the construction of this freeway. The equity of who participates will be just as important as how the new boulevard ultimately will look.”

I-75 from 8 Mile Road to North of 13 Mile Road, Oakland County
IIJA Funding: $96.7 million
Construction Start Date: Fall 2019
End Date: 2024

Segments 1 and 2 of the I-75 Modernization project already finished, introducing the first high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in Michigan. Growth along the 18-mile corridor drove the need for increased capacity to relieve congestion.

Segment 3, now underway, will complete the reconstruction and widening of a 5.5-mile I-75 segment stretching from M-102 (8 Mile Road) to south of M-59, passing through the cities of Hazel Park, Royal Oak, and Madison Heights. The work includes complete pavement reconstruction; ITS upgrades; replacement of 22 vehicle overpasses and ramps and six pedestrian structures; and a safety upgrade that separates traffic entering northbound I-75 from I-696, as well as northbound I-75 traffic exiting at 11 Mile Road. The project will also widen a portion of the segment with an HOV/general purpose lane in both directions.

Segment 3 was delivered through a 30-year design-build-finance-maintain availability payment concession that combined what would have been five segments under design-bid-build delivery with traditional finance methods, accelerating completion by 12 years, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA). The procurement model requires the concessionaire, Oakland Corridor Partners, to perform preventative maintenance along the project segment for 25 years after construction completion. The FHWA put the total 30-year project cost in year-of-expenditure dollars, including preventative maintenance, at $1.4 billion.

Lafayette Bascule Bridge, Bay City
IIJA Funding: $73 million
Construction Start Date: May 2024
End Date: June 2027

The 85-year-old, moveable Lafayette Avenue bridge over the Saginaw River in Bay City, Michigan, experiences increasing operational problems and has reached the end of its service life. However, the state was forced to postpone a project to replace the structure in late 2019 due to high projected costs.

Now with the IIJA grant, as well as other federal, state, and local funding, plans for the $112 million project include demolishing the old structure and building a new bascule bridge with two 12-foot-wide vehicular lanes, two 2-foot-wide shoulders, sidewalk, and a bike lane separated by a barrier to increase safety. The project will also reconstruct the operating tower.

Infrastructure for Michigan Peninsulas and Critical Crossings
IIJA Funding: $61 million
Construction Start Date: May 2023
End Date: April 2028

The grant to Peninsula Fiber Network will help fund the Infrastructure for Michigan Peninsulas and Critical Crossings project designed to improve high-speed internet access for unserved and underserved communities across the state. The project will place 535 miles of new, middle-mile fiber, which provides the physical structure needed to enable internet connectivity. Work includes constructing undersea routes from Benton Harbor to Chicago and from Charlevoix to Beaver Island and on to Gulliver in the Upper Peninsula. Overland fiber routes will connect Charlevoix to Grayling, Port Huron to Flint, and Benton Harbor to Grand Rapids. The total cost for the project is estimated at $86 million.

I-94 St. Joseph River to Britain Avenue, Berrien County
IIJA Funding: $54 million
Construction Start Date: August 2023
End Date: November 2026

The three-year, $204 million I-94 Rebuilding project will reconstruct I-94 from west of the I-94 Business Loop/Red Arrow Highway interchange to Britain Avenue. That includes rebuilding approximately 8.5 miles of freeway, replacing four bridges, and repairing nine additional bridges. In addition, an auxiliary lane will be added on eastbound I-94 connecting the Pipestone Road and Napier Avenue interchanges. Ramps at three interchanges will be rebuilt and a new ramp added to carry northbound M-63 traffic to eastbound I-94, eliminating the need for northbound M-63 traffic to make a left turn onto the existing loop ramp.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
IIJA Funding: $49.6 million

Funding from the federal Airport Terminal Program was earmarked for specific projects at Detroit Metro Airport:

  • $28 million to rehabilitate public restrooms
  • $17.6 million to repair baggage claim belts
  • $4 million to start a replacement program for passenger boarding bridges

“The improvements will also involve the installation of more energy-efficient technology in our restrooms and baggage handling areas, supporting our goal of becoming a more environmentally sustainable airport,” said Chad Newton, Wayne County Airport Authority CEO.

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