But paying for it is often a problem. That doesn’t work very well for a chant, I’m afraid.
The American Society of Civil Engineers Houston branch assessed the structural and economic viability of roads, transit, solid waste, wastewater and drinking water facilities.
Drinking water systems received a D, and roads and highways got a D+. Bridges, flood control and transit scored a C-, while solid waste received a C and heavy rail systems – freight rail and Amtrak – a C+.
The report is the first local assessment done by a Texas branch of the national engineering society. Houston is the 11th region nationally to look at local infrastructure. Most regions fared slightly better than Houston, with most categories in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, for example, receiving B and C grades.
Houston drinking water systems in particular are behind on needed maintenance, said Clay Forister, chairman of the engineering society committee that produced the report.
“I think everyone remembers last summer and all the water-main breaks,” Forister said, referring to the drought-related line failures around Houston, which peaked at 1,000 in a single day in August 2011.
Future demand is great, the report found. The combined population of Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Waller, Montgomery, Liberty and Chambers counties is expected to grow by 3 million, to 8.8 million, by 2035, the engineers said.
Without improvements, the 422 miles of local highways will not accommodate that growth, and water and sewer plants will strain to serve an increasing number of people.
You can see the report card and related information here. As the story notes, the city is taking some steps to fund infrastructure renewal – Rebuild Houston is the obvious thing we’ve got going on, but there was also that water rate hike from 2010 that was done in part to fund infrastructure projects for Houston’s water system. Houston’s problems are hardly unique, of course, as are their concerns about how to pay for what needs to be done. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the federal government needs to put up a few billion dollars for infrastructure projects around the country. Water systems everywhere are in desperate need of upgrade, and this would serve as economic stimulus at a time when it’s still a good idea. Unfortunately, that won’t happen any time soon, most likely not until we’re past the point of crisis.