After a call from the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association to reclassify all state transportation projects as "non-essential," and close them under the state's stay-at-home order, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) clarified the state's order in an agreement reached April 1 to allow construction to proceed on state highway, bridge and road projects.
"We respect the Governor’s decision to continue work on state projects where and when our contractors and their workers can stay on the job in a safe manner," said MITA Executive Vice President Mike Nystrom, in a statement. "Our understanding is that essential construction projects will proceed where possible and where the health and safety of workers can be protected following the universal precautions recommended by public health agencies and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
MITA Is a trade association that represents over 500 transportation construction companies statewide.
Under the agreement, a contractor that has workforce concerns directly related to COVID-19—such as labor force shortages, supply chain challenges and/or personal protective equipment concerns—can make its concerns known to the Michigan Dept. of Transportation and request the project be shut down and delayed. If the request is approved by MDOT, an extension of time for the delay will be granted and the contractor will not be held liable for liquidated damages related to the delay.
Nystrom said local agency and other critical infrastructure projects can also proceed, if the local government owner deems a project essential, with the same completion date and liquidated damages terms as MDOT projects.
"Some limited forms of construction are permissible [under the governor's stay-at-home order], including construction to maintain and improve essential public works like roads, bridges, the telecommunications infrastructure and public health infrastructure," said Tiffany Brown, press secretary to Gov. Whitmer about the state's stay-at-home order.
All such continuing projects must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures, per the order.
Two major projects—the $5.7-billion Gordie Howe Bridge and the $629-million Interstate 75 reconstruction—will continue construction with the new precautions in place.