State Calls for Local Help to Outline Infrastructure Goals at Summit in Traverse City

The state is making a push to get infrastructure projects outlined for the next 30 years, and they’re calling on local governments and private entities to team up to make it happen.

Tuesday’s Infrastructure Summit in Traverse City was designed to get the conversation started.

“We know we have to do something different. How can we get a handle of what we have and what makes sense to fix first?”

The Michigan Infrastructure Council is holding 20 summits across the state, spending the next three years creating a 30 year plan for infrastructure projects.

“We’re looking at transportation assets, we’re looking at drinking water, wastewater, storm water, private utilities,” says Erin Kuhn with the Michigan Infrastructure Council.

“Water and sewer, gas and electric, and then now there’s telecom and private entities involved as well. But they all involve underground utilities and then the road on top of them. When you’re ever making changes to one it affects all the different parties, and they rarely talk to each other,” Mark Conradi, Michigan Dept. of Egle said.

The parties are slowly coming together, but they’re looking for more participation from key decision makers.

“Local politicians need to be involved, community leaders, utilities, anybody that’s working with infrastructure or that’s making decisions on how much money you’re going to spend,” says Wexford County Road Commission manager, Alan Cooper.

The idea is to outline the needs and get agencies to work together on plans. To avoid duplicating efforts, doubling costs, and to prevent one agency from undoing the work of another.

“If you pave a road you want to make sure everything is fixed underneath before, so you don’t have to dig it up two months later,” Cooper said.

Getting on the same page now could pave the way for positive results for years to come.

“Consolidating permits, or consolidating meeting times, or consolidating funding sources so that all these things could link up easier and everyone could work together instead of having to track down all those different local entities,” Conradi said.