COVID Money Can Be Used for Transportation Construction Projects

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the federal government has sent millions upon millions of dollars to state and local governments in relief through the American Rescue Plans Act (ARPA). The money came with some strings attached that became confusing for those administering the money. Updates from the Feds were the norm during months of total and partial shutdown of the economy yet still confusing. Throughout the last three years, MITA has advocated for those dollars to be spent on infrastructure projects in every jurisdiction as every corner of Michigan has needs for improvement in their infrastructure. Several hundreds of millions of dollars have already been allocated from state coffers of ARPA money from the feds for roads, bridges and underground infrastructure projects and many local units of government have also utilized these dollars the same way.

Some local units of government, however, have misinterpreted federal guidelines to mean that the ARPA money from the feds could NOT be used for transportation projects. Seeking greater clarification on the subject, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) continuously asked Congress to adopt various amendments that would include language allowing locals to use ARPA relief dollars on transportation projects.

After years of negotiating with Congress, language was inserted into the year ends spending package that passed Congress in December of last year that specifically allows states, counties, and local governments to spend up to 30 percent or $10 million of their portion of the ARPA funding, whichever is greater, on highway and public transportation projects. This is important because we have heard from several MITA members that their local administrators have told them that they cannot use ARPA money for local transportation projects. The US Treasury Department estimates that somewhere between $50 – $100 billion is left uncommitted and may be available for transportation projects.

As you navigate the new year, we suggest that you discuss this with any local units of government that you do work for. Attached is a clarification letter from ARTBA that might be helpful in your discussions. It is important to make them aware of the change in law that clarifies these funds can be used for transportation projects and to see if they have funds from money they received from the ARPA remaining.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Rob Coppersmith, Executive Vice President, at or Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at