MARQUETTE — The big picture of the future of Michigan’s infrastructure was the topic of discussion at a special town hall meeting Friday morning at Northern Michigan University.
Governor Rick Snyder made an appearance at the Marquette stop of the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission’s Northern Michigan Listening Tour, but the focus of the day wasn’t his visit; rather, the meeting put the spotlight on local issues and thoughts on the future of the state’s infrastructure.
“The infrastructure needs in an area like the U.P. [are] a little bit different than in some of the larger cities,” said Gavin Leach, Vice President for Finance and Administration at NMU and a member of the commission. “Obviously transportation, water, and sewer are big concerns, and up here, the rural broadband issue is a big issue that we hear quite a bit about.”
Representatives from local government, businesses, and more got a chance to sit down with members of the commission to talk about the range of issues they would like the group to address. The commission’s recommendations are due in November, and Snyder said those recommendations will feed into a 21st Century Economy Commission to figure out what goals are necessary to build the state’s economy in the long term.
“They’ve got an aggressive timeline to come out in November with recommendations,” said State Representative John Kivela (D–Marquette), “and then as the Legislature, we’ll look at it, but we’re not talking about a one or five year funding; we’re talking about thirty to fifty years out. So it’s going to be a big number, but I think it’s the responsible approach.”
For those who missed Friday’s meeting, the commission is continually taking input from citizens via its website, miinfrastructurecommission.com.
“As we move from the stage about talking about what we need to do to saying how we actually get it done and how do we pay for it, we’re going to need to involve everyone, because we’re going to have to ask everyone to invest in some fashion,” said Snyder.