SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians has been awarded $19.8 million from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program to invest in infrastructure, multi-modal paths, and a boardwalk.

The project, titled Ozhitoon Mino-Bimaadiziwin (Build for a Good Life ) is designed to improve safety for pedestrians, promote connectivity, and support the tribe’s plan for the Shunk Road neighborhood. The project will connect corridors, make it easier for people who use public transportation, those who walk and bike. The connecting corridors would encourage more people to use Sault Ste. Marie’s bike network and keep pedestrians and vehicles away from each other.

“More and more people continue to seek alternative transportation options like walking, biking and public transit. These grant funds will ensure we can continue to invest in our community and the health and safety of our residents by improving the transportation options available to them,” said Sault Tribe Vice Chairperson Austin Lowes. “I want to thank our tribe staff and local leaders for their work in bringing this grant to our community.”

The Shunk Rd. neighborhood transformation has received community and bi-partisan political support from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, Congressmen Jack Bergman and Dan Kildee, and State Senators Wayne Schmidt and Ed McBroom.  

“Investing in infrastructure will not only ensure residents and families can get around safely and efficiently, it will help our communities rebuild in a way that promotes long-term growth and resiliency,” said Senator Peters, who wrote a letter of support for the project to Department of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg. “That’s why I was proud to help secure this grant, which will help the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians upgrade roadways that are critical to their Tribe and economic success, while increasing access to the breathtaking nature our state has to offer.”

“Greater investments in Michigan and our nation’s infrastructure are long overdue. I applaud these critical road improvements to improve public safety and expand access to outdoor recreation and essential tribal services,” said Senator Stabenow.

Partners in the project include Chippewa Mackinac Luce Community Action Agency, the city of Sault Ste. Marie and the Chippewa County Road Commission

“This $19.8 million federal investment will help build the safer, greener roads and trails that our tribe and city deserve: saving lives, easing commutes, and bringing communities closer together,” said author of the Shunk Road Streetscape Project and the grant proposal, Transportation Planner Wendy Hoffman. “It was my privilege to help secure this transformative funding, and I will continue to work diligently with federal, state and local partners to achieve our ‘Vision Zero,’ ending traffic fatalities and providing connectivity. 

US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced the $2.2 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act RAISE grants Aug. 11 funding 166 projects across the country.