Like many across the country, I was shocked last week as the events of the bridge collapse in Minnesota unfolded on national television.
I have family that lives in that area and it hit a personal note. My first reaction was to call and check on everyone. We are fortunate that none of our family was involved.
Now as the national finger pointing begins, we must not forget to look to our own selves as a piece of the big problem for our urban infrastructure failing.
With bridge failures, gas and water lines rupturing under city streets, and potholes reappearing as fast as they're fixed, how can that be our fault? If you listen to the nightly news, it is your legislatures fault for not funding properly. Or it may be some crooked contractors fault who failed to deliver what they promised. To some extent, it may be some of each.
Where I am coming from though, is that we need to take some responsibility in the way we are choosing to live in bedroom communities and commute long distances to work each day. As we move further out of the central area of cities, we continue to need new roads to transport us to where we need to go.
Money is allocated to create new roads and widen the ones we have as quickly as possible. Little is left over for maintaining the core structure. Ongoing studies have documented the deterioration of the underlying infrastructure to our roads, cities and towns. In the end the cry becomes the loudest to deal with funding to alleviate traffic congestion and provide services to the growth areas because they are the most visible problem.
Our county has done a pretty good job of acknowledging our water lines system is in need of replacement and has spent some time replacing stretches of pipes while it had roads torn up. It is inconvenient to have a bridge or major transportation route shut down for a period of time while major repairs take place.
We'd best get used to it if we want to be able to depend on the quality of life we have grown accustomed to.
If you think that the failure of water lines in New York City or the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota doesn't affect us all, you are sadly mistaken. The disruption to the economy ripples in prices for goods and services across the nation. If gas distribution is even hinted at being slowed, the price at the pump can leap in a heart beat.
If the recent reports of the nations failing infrastructure is even half right then we need to quickly shift our resources back to the maintenance and repair of these lifelines.
New growth needs to be funded by impact fees that will cover the expansion of services to these areas without draining the coffers needed to maintain the core systems. In an area like ours, struggling for growth, that might not be a popular stance, but with limited resources we can't afford not to do that.
It will be interesting to see what the final report of the cause of this tragedy will be. The loss of lives was not worth the wake-up call. But since we have it, let's not wait for it to happen again before we jump into action.