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Front Page » August 7, 2007 » Opinion » Staff Editorial: Someone has to pay for infrastructure
Published 2,641 days ago

Staff Editorial: Someone has to pay for infrastructure


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Nothing, in this material world, lasts forever.

We all inherently know that. Seas and oceans shift their dimensions, the earth moves and mountains grow up while others are worn down by the aggressiveness of the climate.

On a shorter time scale, civilizations rise and fall, some disappearing from the face of the earth forever.

In the world of flora and fauna, biological creatures come and go as species, and as individuals die when their time is up.

And mans creations? They eventually go the way of the wind and dust. And as is the case with all human nature, other men tear them down either to build anew or just to destroy their enemies work.

This is not a philosophical point of view, but a real one. We all know these things to be true, so why do we, as a culture, expect everything to last forever?

Within this mind set we see the things that have been built around us and expect they will be around and will function for a very long time. Sometimes we ignore the fact that these things are deteriorating and will have to be replaced.

Often at great cost.

The bridge collapse on I-35 in Minnesota brings to mind that everything has a tipping point and we can't ignore it. Among bridges in our country, that bridge, built in 1967, was fairly new compared with many others. Most will not fail, but will be replaced before they do. However there is always a fight in the public arena when citizens have to pay for something new to replace infrastructure that seems perfectly fine because someone has kept it running.

A good example is the infrasttructure in most towns, cities and villages. In Carbon County many of the original water pipes, sewer lines and electrical distribution systems here were constructed in the early to mid part of the 20th century. Who paid for it then? Well it was the people who lived then. They passed down that investment to us, letting us use it on their dime. Just as a family passes the torch from one generation to the next, the heritage of those things, both good and bad, have become our responsibility.

Today there are a number of small towns in the area struggling to replace leaking sewer systems, sieve like water mains, curbs and gutters that are turning to dust, power poles that a person can stick their fist through they are so rotten, and yes bridges that are losing their integrity. All these things must be replaced because some of them are as much as 100 years old.

And someone must pay for it. I go to meetings and I hear residents complain that the cities shouldn't raise utility rates or put on extra taxes to do these things. But those people forget that for years they have used a system that was paid for by people who lived there long ago. Those descendents passed along the infrastructure they built so we could use it to our advantage. It's a lot like the pair of shoes your older sibling left to you when you were a kid. They may last for awhile, but sooner or later they will wear out and you have to go to the shoe store and buy your own new pair.

For those that live in cities that are in the deteriorating infrastructure boat, it is now time to go to that shoe store.



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August 7, 2007
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