Now in its fourth year, the week comprises a series of events as well as media coverage, education and advocacy.
Infrastructure Matters is this year’s theme, designed to tell the story of what infrastructure means to Americans. Infrastructure comprises streets, roads, bridges, rails, pipes, the power grid and much more. Americans rely on infrastructure for every facet of life from commuting, shopping and recreating to moving goods to turning on the faucet for water and flipping a switch for electricity.
NLC Issues Report
The National League of Cities on May 16 released Paying for Local Infrastructure in a New Era of Federalism
, which is a comprehensive study of the nation’s infrastructure crisis. The report shows that cities need a more deliberate approach that recognizes the central role of infrastructure in the success of our nation’s economic engines. To achieve this, cities need strategic and predictable investment from federal and state governments; better communication between cities and states on funding priorities; and greater local authority to raise revenue and implement creative solutions with multi-sector partners.
As part of Infrastructure Week, League Executive Director Chris McKenzie participated in a national press event with the National League of Cities. McKenzie, one of five speakers on the conference call provided a state perspective on infrastructure needs. NLC’s new report served as the basis for the discussion with reporters.
California’s Local Infrastructure
The League has consistently set infrastructure as a priority because it is such a core function of cities. Increasing funding for critical transportation and water infrastructure is the organization’s top strategic goal
California’s local streets and road system is in dire straits with approximately $40 billion in deferred maintenance and repair needs. The local system has a $78 billion shortfall for the next decade. Without additional funding, by 2024, one-quarter of all local streets and roads will be in failed condition according to the Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment
. California’s streets, roads, bridges and highways are the lifeline of this state.
Cities and counties own and maintain more than 80 percent of all of California roadways and this biennial study, which will come out again in fall 2016, has tracked local street and road conditions since 2008. Conditions have deteriorated since the first survey ago when the statewide average was 68. Today it’s dropped to 66, which falls into the at risk category. This survey found that although existing funding for California’s local roadways is $1.7 billion annually, the actual need to merely maintain current conditions is $3.3 billion. Of California’s 58 counties, an alarming 54 have streets and roads that are either at risk or ranked in poor condition. In 10 years, it is projected that 25 percent of local streets and roads will be ranked poor.
Water infrastructure is also of paramount importance and with the drought, greater attention has been put to fix leaking pipes as a conservation measure. Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board came out with draft guidelines that will permanently prohibit water wastage as well as take action with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to fix leaking pipes. DWR, in fact, estimates that leaks in water district distribution system account for 700,000 acre feet of water annually. Audits have shown that on average, water utilities lose 10 percent of their total supply due to leaks.
Transportation Rally Calls on Legislative Leaders to Prioritize State and Local Transportation Needs
Thursday, the League will be joining the Fix Our Roads Coalition
to rally on the South Steps of the Capitol in Sacramento at 10 a.m. This group comprises a broad coalition of cities, county, transportation advocates, labor and business that formed to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to address California’s chronic transportation infrastructure shortfall. The May 19 rally is expected to bring hundreds representatives from the coalition to Sacramento to demonstrate the urgency for the Governor and Legislature to act now to fix California’s crumbling roads.
League Executive Director Chris McKenzie issued a video invitation
to this important event, urging city officials to take part in this rally.