Are you sick of the construction? Are you tired of your half-awake stumbles to your 9 a.m. classes being rudely punctuated by the crews around Eddy? Fatigued of the seeming crawl of traffic downtown? Whether driving around town or navigating the crowds around construction areas on campus, many in the Ram community are left wondering, “When will it all end?” The answer to that, unfortunately, is that the repair work has only just begun.
Recently, an article surfaced in USA Today that documented thousands of gas leaks in Washington D.C. due to their aging gas lines. However, the article mistakenly treated this phenomena as an isolated incident when, in truth, that’s far from the case. In actuality, there have been tens of thousands of gas leaks discovered in the past decade, with hazardous effects; explosions from gas leaks have killed hundreds of people in the U.S.and caused an estimated $2 billion in damages since 2004. Unfortunately, these faulty gas pipes are only part of a much larger problem, the risk of which is only worsening with time.
Our country’s infrastructure is ancient, aged to the point that it is now a liability. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 17 percent of the bridges in Colorado are structurally deficient or obsolete — with the average age of our structures being 42 years old. Furthermore, they also reported that 70 percent of Colorado’s roads are in poor or mediocre conditions, which costs our drivers over $1 billion a year in extra vehicle operating costs.
Despite these alarming forecasts, we have not seen a response equal in urgency from state or federal governments. The only recent action Congress has taken is to patch the Highway Trust Fund (a federal fund to assist states in highway maintenance) to keep it financially viable through next spring. We have not seen any new large-scale legislation for infrastructure in years, despite the fact that the reparation work would stimulate the economy, according to Engineering News Record. Spending on infrastructure has actually dropped by 10 percent in the last decade — even before the recession. This inaction is incomprehensible in the face of the clear economic, health and safety risks we incur by letting our systems age further. We need to do more.
I am proud that Fort Collins is taking the lead on updating our infrastructure, but we need to demand more action at the state and federal levels to revitalize our archaic foundations. I realize that our federal and state governments are heavily in debt, but infrastructure needs to be higher on our priority spending list. This is not a political issue, this is a matter of staying competitive in the global market, maintaining efficiency and ensuring the safety of one another. Maintaining the status quo is an unacceptable option as it poses a clear and present danger to a majority of our communities. We cannot kick the can down the road any longer; our roads are the problem.
Collegian Senior Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter by @seanskenn.