When Governor Snyder announced that he was forming the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, (MITA’s Executive Vice President Mike Nystrom is a member and MITA member Evan Weiner is the Chairman), one of the goals he envisioned was to have more collaboration on all forms of infrastructure projects to ensure agencies and local units of government were using tax dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible. For example, when a road is being reconstructed, local communities should look into investing in the infrastructure underneath and determine if it makes sense to repair the already exposed pipes below. This occurs from time to time but too often we hear stories about a road getting torn up just a few years after it’s built to repair some underground infrastructure.
Last week, Governor Snyder took another step toward achieving additional coordination by issuing an executive directive that calls for increased collaboration between the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), local governments and utility companies on statewide infrastructure projects. The Governor said in a press release that, “this directive aims to identify those opportunities where we can upgrade our water and sewer infrastructure at the same time roads and bridges are being done.”
Under the directive, the director of MDOT is charged with working with the director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and both the Michigan Utilities Coordinating Committee and the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, with which MITA is heavily involved. In addition, the directive seeks to identify best practices for coordination of roadwork and infrastructure installation, relocation and replacement employed by state departments of transportation across the United States.
This is just one of many examples of underground infrastructure in Michigan getting attention statewide. The formation of the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission is a platform that will likely set the direction for infrastructure public policy for decades. In addition, the recent water infrastructure investment needs report that MITA released in April has seen a lot of attention in the media, and Mike Nystrom presented the material to both the Joint Select Committee on The Flint Water Public Health Emergency and the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission.
While extremely unfortunate that the residents in Flint are being subjected to a water crisis, the situation has given our state an opportunity to pay closer attention to our aging underground infrastructure. Citizens across Michigan are voicing their opinions loudly to elected officials that they do not want to see their communities go through the same struggles that Flint has had to endure.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at email@example.com. They can also be reached at 517-347-8336.