With heavy snow targeting the Northeast and a contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., our water and transportation infrastructure have become a heavy topic of discussion this week.
Besides snow days and curling up by the fire, winter weather brings wear and tear on our nation’s roads, water pipes and power lines. Colorado, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee, have all experienced water main breaks in the past week due to cold weather conditions. This time of year also magnifies the many potholes that plague our nation’s roads. Oregon, New York, South Dakota, Iowa and Idaho all have their fair share of pothole damage that is exacerbated by the cold weather. In Houston, Texas, Mayor Sylvester Turner even launched an initiative to fill potholes that Houstonians report within 24 hours by using a website where residents can track and report potholes.
In addition to water main breaks, water infrastructure has also been under scrutiny due to the recent water crisis in Flint, Mich. In his State of the State Address, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder noted that there are pipes underneath Michigan roads that are more than 100 years old. He requested $28 million in additional funds from the state legislature to provide for the residents affected by the crisis, provide additional testing for high risk locations and conduct an infrastructure integrity study to fix the pipes and other connections. In Vermont, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the five-year cost of cleaning up Vermont’s water is about $154 million.
Clearly the importance of diligent maintenance and funding cannot be over-stressed when it comes to our nation’s transportation and water infrastructure. It’s up to our elected leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to continue prioritizing investment into the backbone of our economy.