What Infrastructure Planning Looks Like

Governor Snyder’s Executive Directive seeks multi–agency cooperation on infrastructure projects

Have you ever seen a brand new road torn up to replace a pipe? Did you think to yourself, “Couldn’t they plan that better?”

The answer: Probably! Through his Executive Directive, Governor Snyder thinks infrastructure planning among road agencies, municipalities, and utilities can improve, too.

On May 13, he issued an executive directive to MDOT calling for more collaboration with local governments and utility companies on future projects. The reason echoes lessons learned from the Flint water crisis—more transparency and collaboration are crucial to reducing infrastructure costs and disasters. He explains, “Modernizing Michigan’s aging infrastructure requires significant investment, and we can minimize costs and disruption by enhancing collaboration on planning and projects. This directive aims to identify those opportunities where we can upgrade water and sewer infrastructure at the same time roads and bridges are being done.”

How are we going to do this?

Collectively we haven’t been thinking enough about water and sewer pipes falling apart, or how we will pay to replace them.

Fortunately, technology now plays a huge role in improving infrastructure planning.

In Michigan’s future, we will:

  • Store condition data about every pipe in a community’s system in layered, ‘smart’ maps
  • Know locations of underground pipes before digging
  • Have utility crews that can update the maps via computer tablets whenever anything changes
  • Have data to objectively identify potential pipe replacement and to help us coordinate multi–agency activities, minimizing the long–term ownership cost of our infrastructure

Today, we are improving on yesterday’s planning and we have tools that let us coordinate more. Fiscal sustainability means efficient use of money, such as treating pipes and roads as one system. At Prein&Newhof we are hopeful that Governor Snyder’s executive directive helps Michigan avoid digging up the same road twice in five years!

 

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