The membership of Associated Underground Contractors –– Michigan’s Heavy Construction Association (AUC) and the Michigan Road Builders Association (MRBA) have approved the merger of their respective organizations to form the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA).
According to the organization, the merger of their groups –– one of the first of its kind in the nation –– strengthens the industry’s lobbying clout and creates a strong voice for transportation and infrastructure-related issues in Michigan.
“AUC and MRBA have long shared the common goal of creating a world-class transportation and infrastructure system in Michigan,” said AUC President Steve Jackson of Jackson-Merkey Contractors Inc., of Muskegon.
“As the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, we will bring our considerable talents and expertise together to make our vision a reality.”
MITA officials said the group’s immediate focus is to make sure that Michigan has sufficient and necessary transportation and infrastructure funding to help grow the states’ economy.
A key priority will be to ensure Michigan receives an equitable share of increased funding to come from the reauthorization of the federal highway bill, which expires on May 31, 2005.
In addition, MITA will represent its members in the growing discussions about securing adequate and increased levels of state transportation funding. But MITA officials also said they will push to make sure communities use Michigan’s $1-billion bond program to repair and replace municipal sewer systems, which will help create good-paying jobs.
Voters approved the program in 2002, but only $1.5 million of the revolving loan program has been spent to date.
AUC and MRBA leadership have been exploring the option of combining their organizations for several months, seeking to provide the highest level of service to their respective members by establishing one authoritative source of expertise on infrastructure and transportation issues.
“This merger is truly the industry coming together to reach our full potential,” said MRBA President Chris Shea of PK Contracting in Troy. “MITA will be the voice in Lansing and around the state on transportation and infrastructure issues so critical to maintaining and growing Michigan’s economy.”
The new organization was officially unveiled at the First Annual Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association Conference held January 13-14 at the Soaring Eagle Resort in Mt. Pleasant.
The event included panel discussions, a meeting of the board of Directors, industry related sessions and a table-top trade show. Director of Michigan’s Department of Transportation, Gloria Jeff, was the keynote speaker.
Co-sponsors of the event included AIS Construction Equipment, Central Asphalt Inc., Edward C. Levy Company, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, P.K Contracting Inc. and Vanderlind & Sons Inc.
While the event was the first for the newly formed organization, it was the 77th Annual Conference for MRBA.
For more than 55 years, AUC has represented more than 500 members across Michigan, including those companies involved in underground construction, road and bridge building, and various specialty trades.
Since 1928 the MRBA has represented the interests of road construction companies, support service firms and suppliers.
Board members chose to include infrastructure in the new organization’s name because of the importance these industries play in Michigan’s overall economy.
Both AUC and MRBA also have been integral members of Michigan’s Transportation Team, the coalition dedicated to bringing Michigan’s fair share of federal funding back to the state.
“Investment in infrastructure and transportation projects will remain a key topic in the critical budget debate in the upcoming legislative session and beyond,” said Robert Patzer, MITA executive vice-president. “This reorganization puts us in a strong position to make sure our members not only have a seat at the table in these discussions, but that we will continue to lead the effort of identifying solutions to the challenges we face.”