Friday, September 29, 2006

Infrastructure Still Not Good

This is not encouraging, but expected, that even with the success of the bonds on the ballot, the state will still be in bad shape and what is required is the public leadership, acting with consistency, to provide infrastructure funds for the long term.

That leadership has, so far, not emerged.

An excerpt.

Article Last Updated: 9/27/2006 10:16 PM
State infrastructure gets C-minus as engineers issue report card
BY HARRISON SHEPPARD, Sacramento Bureau LA Daily News

SACRAMENTO - California's infrastructure is in such bad shape that the $42 billion bond package on the November ballot would make only a dent in the problem, according to a new report issued Wednesday by an engineers group.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the state's overall infrastructure a grade of C-minus and said it would take an additional $37 billion annually for at least a decade to get it up to an acceptable B grade.

"These bond measures are not a panacea," said Yazdan Emrani, who co-chairs the committee that produced the report. "This is a start of a road that, hopefully, all of us will be willing to take together in investing funds in our infrastructure on a continuous annual basis, not a one-time deal."

The C-minus grade came in the American Society of Civil Engineers' first California Infrastructure Report Card, based on similar reports by the society at the national level. The last national report card gave the U.S. infrastructure a D grade.

The state report came out on the same day as results of a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, which found that voters favor most of the Nov. 7 bond proposals.

The poll found that the bond measures dealing with the infrastructure were leading by margins of 10 points or more among likely voters who had made up their minds, with the highest lead - 57 percent in favor, 30 percent opposed - going to the housing bond proposal.

The report card broke the state's infrastructure into nine individual subjects, with levees and other flood-control projects getting the worst grade: F.

There was a D-plus in the parks/open space category. The same grade came in each of two other categories: transportation and controls on urban runoff.

The highest grade, a B, was in solid waste, judged acceptable because of gains in recycling and advanced planning to extend landfill capacity.

In transportation, the engineers recommended support for county sales tax measures for local projects; efforts to streamline government approval of projects; and efforts to secure more money from the federal government.

The engineers estimated that $17.9 billion a year for 10 years would be needed to bring the state's transportation system up to a B grade.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers have made infrastructure a priority this year, agreeing on a bond package of four measures on the November ballot to raise $37 billion.
An independent group added a fifth bond measure for water projects, bringing the combined total to $42 billion.

Paul Hefner, a spokesman for the campaign committee promoting the bond package from legislators and the governor, said officials have always recognized that the bonds alone won't solve the problem, but he noted that the funds would be leveraged to produce a greater overall investment.

For every dollar the state provides through bonds, a local agency - such as a city or county government or a school district - and the federal government might provide twice as much in matching funds for a project, Hefner said.

"Our plan for $37 billion will (spend) some multiple more than that - two or three or five times that - to give us good schools, good roads and other things we need for a sound economy," Hefner said.