This is an opinion piece originally published in the Lansing State Journal and was written by Rob Coppersmith, the interim executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association. Read more here.
As 2022 begins, Michigan finds itself in a great spot to deal with major infrastructure issues. From road repairs to replacing underground water pipes, resources are starting to become available for the state and local communities to take action to address critical infrastructure needs.
Throughout 2021, we saw reasons for optimism amid the chaos of the pandemic and the continued complaints about our pothole-filled roads. Now, in 2022, it’s time to take action.
Congress acted in November to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will provide a $1.7 billion annual boost in funding over the next five years to help address road repairs, fix bridges, and replace failing underground infrastructure such as drains and pipes. While the short-term annual funding boost from Washington is welcome news for Michigan, this is only the beginning of addressing needed repairs for our roads, bridges and underground infrastructure.
As we learned in a report from the state of Michigan in 2016, we need an additional $4 billion annually to address our infrastructure repair and replacement issues. We’re thankful that our leaders in Washington stepped up to work on critical infrastructure funding issues this past year, and we hope that Michigan’s leaders will soon step up to pass a long-term infrastructure plan to address Michigan’s dire needs.
Our local communities have also been afforded a rare opportunity to address critical infrastructure issues this past year. With funding from the American Rescue Plan, local governments across the state have funds on hand to address underground water pipes and drains. Many of these repairs have long been out of reach for many communities due to high price tags and lack of funding. Over the next year, we hope to see local governments put these funds to good use to make the long overdue repairs to their underground infrastructure.
Throughout the pandemic and years of tight road repair budgets, we are thankful for the hard work that our construction companies and their crews have done to fix what they can with the resources that are available. When times have been tough, the men and women who fix Michigan’s roads have stepped up and given it their all. It’s not easy working on the side of roads with cars zipping by, but these folks get the job done day in and day out. We would not be where we are today without their hard work.
As we head into the new year, we look forward to working with Michigan’s leaders to enact a plan that will address our long-term infrastructure needs in the coming year. Washington has already enacted funding to get long-neglected infrastructure repairs off the ground across Michigan. We have the work force in place to get the job done. Let’s make 2022 the year that we finally put Michigan’s infrastructure back on track.