An initiative from the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association draws much-needed attention to the state’s aging and failing systems.
From its stormwater and wastewater systems to its roads and bridges, Michigan’s infrastructure needs some love—a lot of love.
Separate studies released by the Governor’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission and Business Leaders for Michigan indicate that the state would need to invest $4 billion per year for about the next 20 years to meet infrastructure needs.
Alongside organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association spent the final days of May calling upon state lawmakers to find a long-term solution to the crumbling roadways and other infrastructure issues that plague the state.
But that’s hardly MITA’s biggest effort to enact change. Over the past seven months, the association, which represents more than 600 companies in the construction industry, has built up a massive public awareness initiative set to consume up to 20 percent of its annual budget, according to an article in Crain’s Detroit Business. The online campaign, dubbed Fix MI State, features a newsletter and social media presence, as well as a website with recent news, links to relevant studies, and in-depth descriptions of Michigan’s infrastructure woes.
Videos shared across Fix MI State’s online platforms show real Michigan residents discussing the state’s infrastructure challenges, while a civic engagement form encourages residents to email, tweet, Facebook message, or call lawmakers to demand action.
Together, these elements nudge the public down the path spelled out in the campaign’s slogan: “Get the facts. Hear the stories. Raise your voice.” They also create a public dialogue that may be essential to spurring proactivity—especially considering how many infrastructure issues go unnoticed until something catastrophic happens, said MITA Executive Vice President Mike Nystrom.
“Consider two recent examples: the Flint water crisis that made international headlines, and the massive sinkhole that opened [in December] after an 11-feet-in-diameter sewage line collapsed 60 feet beneath Fraser, just north of Detroit,” Nystrom wrote in article published in the Lansing State Journal. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
But the Fix MI State campaign ensures no hazardous dam, leaking sewer system, or pitted roadway goes unnoticed by the public.
“Someday, Michigan’s elected leaders are going to have to fix our state’s infrastructure,” Nystrom wrote. “As Michigan citizens, we can move our politicians to action by becoming aware, raising our voices, and joining the conversation.”