In April 2016, Governor Rick Snyder convened the “21st Century Infrastructure Commission” with the goal of producing a report by November that assessed the state of Michigan’s infrastructure, identified needs over the next 30-50 years and offered recommendations on how the state can best provide its residents with a modern infrastructure system. The concept of this Commission was seeded during Governor Snyder’s State of the State Address during which he specifically addressed the water crisis in Flint and acknowledged the state’s need to address the improvements needed by many of Michigan’s infrastructure systems among them roadways, bridges, energy, and ports.
The 27 member Commission was made up of Directors of key state agencies and appointees selected by the Governor and State Legislature. Among the appointed members were stakeholders from the business community, environmental and infrastructure sectors, members of the engineering community and public utilities. ASCE Michigan Section Executive Director Ron Brenke, P.E. was among those at the table. The result of their collaboration was the recently released “21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report” which identified the following:
- Michigan must close a $4 billion per year investment gap in order to achieve a modern infrastructure system. This amounts to an over $60 billion gap over the next 20 years.
- Even with the approval of a gas tax increase in 2015, Michigan’s transportation infrastructure still faces a $2.7 billion annual investment gap.
- The state must establish a strategic way to better manage statewide infrastructure to enable the state to make better informed decisions about investing in the maintenance, rehabilitation, and/or development of new infrastructure.
- In order to achieve greener and more sustainable communities, Michigan must aim to source approximately 30% of its electric energy from renewables and natural gas as well as aim for greater energy efficiency.
- Investing in Michigan’s aging water systems is an investment in public health; many of Michigan’s community water systems were built 50-100 years ago.
The report goes on to give specific recommendations and goals in the areas of water, transportation, energy and communications. The overall objective is to ensure the state is on the path to achieving a 21st Century Michigan that provides residents with a healthy environment, economic prosperity, reliable and high-quality services, and offers the state the most value given limited financial resources.
We applaud Michigan’s efforts to assess the state of its infrastructure and identify critical needs. We are also hopeful that Michigan’s Legislature and Governor will work together to make many of the report’s recommendations a reality during the course of its 2017-18 legislative session.