Our View: Fla. collapse drives home infrastructure importance

Published 9:08 am Monday, March 19, 2018

Our country received a heartbreaking reminder how important infrastructure safety is last week when a pedestrian bridge connecting the Florida International University campus to the community of Sweetwater collapsed, killing six people when the structure fell onto a busy six-lane road.

Infrastructure’s importance when it comes public safety and the ability to grow commerce continues to be ignored.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gave the country a “D+” rating.

Email newsletter signup

Kentucky didn’t come in much better.

Last year, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce released “A Citizen’s Guide to Kentucky Infrastructure,” a report detailing the critical condition of much of the state’s infrastructure elements including highways, bridges, riverports, utilities and broadband, water and wastewater and other areas.

Key points from the review were:

Roads rated in poor condition — as much as 8 percent across the state and 16 percent of major urban thoroughfares.

Narrow passages — 19.2 percent of rural roads are less than 12 feet wide, compared to 10.6 percent nationally.

Annual cost to motorists of road congestion, vehicle operating costs due to poor roads and inadequate safety features: $4 billion a year.

Less money to build and maintain highways with declining state funding due to reduced revenue from the gas tax.

Deficient bridges — 1,157 (Kentucky ranks 19th nationally in the category) with another 3,133 considered functionally obsolete; repair costs are estimated at $2 billion.

Sixteen percent of Kentuckians who have no access to broadband Internet service; that compares to 10 percent nationally.

Infrastructure needs over the next 20 years for drinking water: an estimated $6.2 billion; wastewater infrastructure: an estimated at $6.24 billion.

Public transportation: almost exclusively via buses; no light rail or commuter rail.

The warning signs are there. They have been in Kentucky for years. They were there in Sweetwater.

Now is time to move forward in Kentucky and across the nation.