How we’re fixing Michigan’s infrastructure

Evan Weiner

For Michigan to have a robust economy, healthy communities, and a clean environment, we must take action to improve Michigan’s infrastructure.

We need safe and reliable roads and bridges so that we can travel to work and take our kids to schools. We need safe and reliable drinking water systems so that our families can have clean water. We need safe and reliable energy and communications so that we can power our homes and conduct business. We need safe and reliable wastewater and storm water systems to protect our communities against flooding and help keep raw sewage from entering Michigan’s lakes, rivers, and streams.

Now is the time to come together and develop a vision for a holistic and sustainable infrastructure system. Michigan can be a national leader in creating a 21st century infrastructure system, but we all have a part in helping to develop solutions.

Many of our state’s infrastructure systems were built 50 to 100 years ago and have long exceeded their functional lives. For too long, Michigan’s infrastructure challenges went ignored and the results speak for themselves:

■In two separate statewide polls released in April, Michigan residents and voters said fixing our infrastructure is the top or second most important issue facing the state.

■On a scale of “A” for best and “E” for worst, Michigan’s infrastructure received a “D” grade on the American Society of Civil Engineers’ most recent report card on state infrastructures.

■State and local leaders continue to work on solutions to the Flint water crisis, which in part is a result of the city’s aging lead water lines. Efforts are underway with state support to replace the lead service lines to thousands of homes.

■A new report this month from TRIP — a national transportation research group — finds 37 percent of Michigan’s major roads are in poor condition and 27 percent of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Michigan has 1,390 community drinking water systems, 1,080 wastewater treatment systems, 619 agencies that own and operate 120,000 miles of public roads, 437 telecommunications providers, 231 electric power plants and 5,735 miles of lines, and approximately 55,000 miles of natural gas distribution main and over 3.2 million service lines

Michigan’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission is reviewing the best practices from around the world to recommend innovative solutions that can improve the maintenance, building, and funding options for Michigan’s entire infrastructure system. Our goal is to provide a guide for reliable, safe and affordable investments in infrastructure that will ensure the vitality and well-being of Michigan’s citizens and economy for the next 50 years.

Evan Weiner is chief operating officer and executive vice president of Edw. C. Levy Co. and chairs Michigan’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission.

Share your ideas

The commission looks forward to submitting its report to share with the governor, legislature, and the public Nov.30. Visit Miinfrastructurecommission.com to share your ideas