Earlier this week, Governor Rick Snyder announced a pilot program in two areas of the state that would integrate all infrastructure in those areas under one asset management plan. The directive announced by the Governor announced was a follow-up to the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission report that MITA Executive Vice President Mike Nystrom and long-standing MITA member Evan Weiner of the Edw. C. Levy Corporation helped develop. One of the strongest recommendations MITA brought to the table, that which the Governor has made his first priority is the development of a statewide asset management council for all infrastructure in the Michigan.
The pilot project will take place in the metro Detroit region and the Grand Rapids region. All agencies within those areas that oversee roads, bridges, wastewater, drinking water, sewers, utilities, etc. will, for the first time in perhaps the history of this country, work together to analyze their assets, review what needs to be maintained, repaired or replaced, and plan for the future on how they can coordinate their efforts to get the best possible outcomes with the resources that they have. For example, if a new road is being constructed in a particular area, agencies will analyze whether or not they have upcoming construction projects planned underground in the next few years, rather than doing business as it is done today, and ripping up the newly constructed road to replace or repair underground facilities in future years.
The concept of a statewide infrastructure asset management council is nothing new to MITA and its members. MITA staff has been advocating for years for an infrastructure asset management council that mirrors the state’s transportation asset management council, which is viewed as one of the best rating systems of roads and bridges throughout the entire country. As we educate the public, media and elected officials about the importance of investment into our infrastructure, it is imperative that we understand the scope of the problem. Without the knowledge of what needs to be fixed and how to utilize the resources that we have in the most effective manner, the public will not buy into the need for increased investment.
For the last several years, the state budget included money in the form of grants to local communities to establish an asset management program for the wastewater and sewer systems. Hundreds of communities have taken advantage of the free money and are either finished or going through the process of developing their own asset management plans. It is the goal of the Governor and of MITA to coordinate all of those plans statewide and to facilitate their transfer into one centralized database overseen by experts in the field. Once established, an interactive map will be created so that the public can see exactly what condition their community infrastructure is in and whether or not there are any construction plans on the horizon. With this knowledge, MITA believes that the public will demand increased investment in their infrastructure and will support solutions when they are proposed at the ballot box.
The state should see some progress and data on how this coordinated effort can work by the end of the year. As things develop, MITA will keep members informed. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Mike Nystrom, MITA’s Executive Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lance Binoniemi, MITA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, at email@example.com. They both can also be reached at 517-347-8336.