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Report: Michigan's infrastructure is failing, state should spend $4 billion more a year

Dec 5, 2016

During his January 2016 State of the State address, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder apologized to the people of Flint for the water crisis in that city, saying "government failed you."

During that speech, he called for the creation of an independent commission to examine Michigan's infrastructure needs. He later signed an executive order creating the commission.

Today, that commission released its findings. Its report found that Michigan must spend $4 billion more annually to upgrade infrastructure that includes roads, water systems, and the power grid.

The study released today says Michigan ranks at the bottom of the spectrum nationally when it comes to investing in its infrastructure:

More from the report:

Michigan’s infrastructure is aging, and maintenance has been deferred for decades, leaving us in a state of disrepair. Failing infrastructure interrupts daily life, slows commerce, jeopardizes public health, pollutes the environment, and damages quality of life. This is evidenced by the condition of our current system:

Here are several stats the report cites showing where Michigan's infrastructure is failing:

  • 39% of roads are in poor condition
  • 27% of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete
  • Water contamination in the city of Flint threatens the health and safety of its residents
  • Since 2008, an average of 5.7 billion gallons of untreated sewage flowed into Michigan waterways
  • 64 rivers that drain 84% of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula tested positive for human sewage
  • Nearly 25% of beaches experienced closures in 2015
  • Approximately 130,000 (10%) of the state’s 1.3 million septic systems are likely experiencing operational problems
  • Property damage from flooding is increasing
  • Approximately 12% of the state’s households lack access to advanced broadband service
  • Planned power plant retirements in the Upper Peninsula have posed challenges to balancing reliability and affordability

Snyder says Michigan's "infrastructure challenges are serious and wide-ranging" and the state must "act with urgency."

State and local capital spending comparison as a percentage of total expenditure, annual average 2010-14.
Credit Michigan's 21st Century Infrastructure Commission

The 21st Century Infrastructure Commission report includes recommendations for all types of infrastructure systems, including transportation, water and storm water, wastewater treatment and drainage, energy and communications infrastructure.

The commission says as a first step, Michigan should become a "national leader" and create a statewide asset management system.