In Southeast Michigan, hardly a week goes by lately without having to contend with the disastrous implications caused by infrastructural issues of this region. More than a week ago, the area around Fort and Dearborn streets in Southwest Detroit was closed to traffic after roads buckled about 8 feet upwards. DTE officials say gas and electric infrastructure was damaged by a water main break during the event, adding there is no evidence natural gas was the cause of the incident. That situation is still under investigation, and while the cause isn’t yet clear, many public officials say it’s an example of negligence.
With this incident and the several major flooding disasters that have swept through our communities this summer, it appears as though our built environment is crumbling. And according to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, not enough is being done to stop it.
Listen: Rep. Tlaib on the urgent need to tackle and update Michigan’s aging energy grid.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib is a Democrat from Detroit representing Michigan’s 13th District. “DTE is willing to modernize their infrastructure. But it matters where that happens and who pays for it … Most of Detroit is served by what they call outdated infrastructure, and that’s the place to start,” says Tlaib.
In discussing the road-buckling incident in Southwest Detroit earlier this month, Tlaib says, “the biggest thing that I heard from EPA and some of the folks on site … [is that] nobody knows what happened,” she says. “We keep hearing people say ‘no one lives there.’ And that is false. They deserve to feel safe and know what’s going on,” says Tlaib of the residents living near the site of the 8-foot-tall eruption. “Imagine if it was downtown Detroit … If it was, I think there would be much more care. You can’t leave people in this situation when it’s so unstable,” she says, adding that “the fact that EPA, the Michigan Public Service Commission, DTE, the City of Detroit … All of them are saying we’ve never seen anything like it … When you hear that, it causes me to be much more alarmed and wanting us to do our due diligence.”