Detroit Regional Chamber > Mackinac Policy Conference > Funding and Fixing Michigan’s Infrastructure

Funding and Fixing Michigan’s Infrastructure

May 30, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Adopting a long-term, sustainable perspective enhances the Michigan Department of Transportation’s efficiency by facilitating comprehensive planning.
  • If we don’t sufficiently fund our roads moving forward, the $3.9 billion investment gap will be put to waste.


Strengthening Michigan’s infrastructure and closing its $3.9 billion investment gap will help guide the state into the future. This session, hosted by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, focused on the need to strengthen Michigan’s infrastructure and the impact high-quality infrastructure has on the business community, population development, and the state as a whole.

Where Michigan is Currently

Coppersmith and Wieferich began the conversation by discussing the history of Michigan’s infrastructure and how funding has fallen so far behind.

“The position that we’re in right now, it’s not new,” Wieferich said. “This has been decades in the making to get us where we are.” He elaborated that the emphasis on adopting a long-term, sustainable perspective enhances our department’s efficiency by facilitating comprehensive planning.

Coppersmith elaborated further on the pitfalls associated with the funding troubles related to the roads at hand.

“Our industry doesn’t leave for other industries,” Coppersmith said. “When this funding cliff hits in a couple of years, an operator that  … operates … an excavator [may be hired from another state]. We already know we have a population issue in our state. If we are going to lose good people to other states because they don’t perform that kind of work, we’re going to have a serious problem.”

It is anticipated that legislators tackling this issue will face significant challenges as they attempt to untangle the decades-long funding complexities.

“This is decades in the making,” Wieferich said. “This isn’t one person or one party’s or one entity’s doing. It has evolved, and the longer it goes on, the more difficult it’s going to be.”

What Michigan is Doing About It

Later in the conversation, the speakers discussed their departments’ actions to improve the state’s infrastructure, which included bonding, current state and federal funding, and recommendations from the Growing Michigan Together Council.

“We use our data-driven approach to forecast and analyze the most perfected way to allocate those dollars,” Wieferich said.

Wieferich added Michigan is working under the national best practice effort, reaching out to industry partners in the consulting world who do this work for both Michigan and states across the country. “Looking at how we use our investment strategy … we need to look at how we are operating,” Wieferich said.

Coppersmith also conveyed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s commitment to addressing road repairs and her grasp of the underlying systemic issues hindering Michigan’s progress.

“She’s been a big cheerleader for all the right reasons,” he said. “[It was] ‘fix the damn roads,’ and now we’re saying, from an industry perspective … ‘let’s fund the damn roads.’”