The Rising Lakes

Dec. 23, 2019

Editor's note: This article was first published on GX Contractor on August 27, 2019. We're highlighting this blog post because it was the most read blog of 2019. We wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

The Great Lakes have risen this summer to unprecedented levels. Efforts to pump out the lake water flooding the sewer system and now an intersection in Ludington, MI, have been mostly futile—the water returns to the 
overflowing roads, sidewalks, and sewers in less than a day. In a nearby town called Pentwater, the rising water has rendered a bridge connecting two sides of the town unusable. The City of Pentwater purchased a ferry and now provides rides across the lake free of charge. 

The city manager of Ludington, Mr. Foster, said in a New York Times article“What happens when the water level goes back down and all those systems dry outThey have been inundated with water for a year now or more. They have saturated the groundwater. They have saturated everything.” He’s expecting new sidewalks, roads, sinkhole repairs, and harbor improvement projects to take place once the water level returns to normal. 

Back in January, we talked about the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) on this blog and the release of Infrastructure Report Cards, rating states in the nine categories of infrastructure. In 2018, the state of Michigan received a grade of D+ on its report card. According to the website, “Michigan’s infrastructure is old and outdated. Michigan’s economic downturn resulted in underinvestment in maintenance and repairs. We’re now faced with pothole-ridden roads, bridges propped with temporary supports, sinkholes destroying homes and closed beaches. […] Michigan must support innovative policies leading to cleaner water, smoother highways, and a safe environment that will attract business and improve our quality of life. 

Roads were one of the areas on which Michigan scored the most poorly. It received a grade of D-, in part due to the fact that the state has been slow to recover since the economic downturn a decade ago. Michigan scored a little better on the “Bridges” category, receiving a C-. Around 11% of the bridges in the state are “structurally deficient.” The highway transportation system is insufficient for the needs of the population and continues to deteriorate. The failures of the system end up costing motorists “billions of dollars every year in wasted time and fuel, injuries and fatalities caused by traffic crashes, and wear and tear on their vehicles.