infrastructure

Too many dams, too little money

Jun 8, 2020
Tim Cwalinski

Of the nearly 2,600 dams in Michigan, more than 90% are going to hit or exceed their design life in 2020, according to a 2014 report

Among those is the 54-year-old Cornwall Creek Dam in Wolverine, Michigan.

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, the Pere Marquette River is internationally-recognized for its brown trout, lake trout and salmon. But locals are worried that a train could soon derail and spill toxic chemicals into the river.

Plus, amidst road budget debates in the State Capitol, hear a Q&A about Michigan's crumbling bridges.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer watches as road expert explains damage to bridge infrastructure.
Rick Pluta

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has again called on Republican leaders to reconvene the Legislature to wrap up work on a new state budget and a plan to fix the roads. But GOP leaders say there’s no reason yet.

Photo shows the inside of a culvert. It's square with concrete walls and a very shallow stream of water is running through it.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Climate change is likely to bring more extreme rainfall and flooding to Michigan, so flood risk in the next 100 years will probably look very different than in the past.

Much of Michigan’s infrastructure — like culverts, bridges and storm drains — is still being designed and built based on the floods of the past.


Today on Stateside, Congressman John Dingell passed away Thursday. Two of his longtime friends from across the aisle, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton and Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley, reflect on the legacy of “the Dean.” Plus, Republicans push back against Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attempts to restructure the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. And we end the week with a cocktail that sounds like spring, but tastes like winter citrus.

Today on Stateside, bitter cold during this week’s polar vortex, combined with a fire at a Consumers Energy natural gas plant, led to an energy crisis. What does that tell us about the state of our energy infrastructure? Plus, remembering the Saginaw-born woman who revolutionized workplace design and helped usher in the era of the open office.

Governor Rick Snyder still can’t build a bridge between a union and a construction trade association to end a roadwork stoppage across the state.

We are getting closer to the age of the autonomous vehicles, whether we like it or not.

Driving to work could soon be opening a laptop rather than sitting behind the wheel. And while this is expected, driverless cars will likely bring much more unexpected change.

Mark Wilson, professor and program director of Urban & Regional Planning at the School of Planning, Design, and Construction at Michigan State University, talked with Stateside today about what some of these changes may be. 

David Cassleman

President Donald Trump’s plan to fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure hasn’t gone anywhere yet. 

Earlier this year, Trump proposed investing $1.5 trillion in the nation’s roads, bridges and other systems. However, only a fraction of the money would come from the federal government in the plan. Instead, most would come from state and local governments. 

 


As much of the nation focused on testimony last Thursday from former FBI Director James Comey, there were some who headed to the White House to talk infrastructure with the President and Vice President.

Among the group of some 40 officials was Candice Miller, former congresswoman and now Macomb County Public Works Commissioner.

As the face of Michigan during the White House meeting, Miller delivered a message about “handicaps and restrictions” that cost money and time on infrastructure investment.

There has been much talk of upgrading Michigan’s aging infrastructure in recent months. In Lansing, that conversation has focused on roads, bridges, and water pipes.

But what about internet access?

High-speed internet is a modern necessity. Regions without reliable high-speed internet are at an economic disadvantage.

And just as rural parts of the country were the last to get electricity in the 20th century, nowadays rural communities across Michigan lag behind urban areas in access to the internet.

The Next Idea

Take the combined brainpower of Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University and apply that to solving the water infrastructure problems we face not only in Flint, but across Michigan.

How much do you trust state government and its ability to do its job?

Across our state and across our country, we're talking about infrastructure: How it's failing, what that means, and what it's going to cost to fix.

What if the issue with our infrastructure isn't that we're not spending enough, but that we've already spent too much and spent it the wrong way?

With the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to set the scene, Governor Snyder on Wednesday signed the new $38.8 billion state budget. 

There were some unexpected revenue shortfalls to deal with. State revenues came up more than $300 million short, largely due to corporate tax credits. There was also a $100 million spike in Medicaid payments. 

A 20-year master plan for regional transit in Metro Detroit was unveiled today, after the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan spent over a year gathering input on the plan.


The Next Idea

If the first Industrial Revolution was characterized by centralization of our water, energy, food and organizational infrastructures, then the next Industrial Revolution will be characterized by the decentralization of these human-designed systems.