Thursday, March 15, 2012

Civil Engineers Issue Dismal Report Card for Gem State

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 3:16 PM

The American Society of Civil Engineers Thursday released their first report card on Idaho's infrastructure, assessing the status of highways, bridges, school buildings and more. Out of 11 categories, Idaho scored no better than a B-minus (on wastewater), and at worst a D-minus (for passenger rail). The average grade for Idaho's infrastructure was a less-than-stellar C.

"By 2015, the average age of Idaho's bridges will be 50 years old, which is the design life on many of these bridges. Many Idaho dams are more than 50 years old," said Seth Olsen, chairman of the 21-member ASCE committee that conducted the study.

Schools also received poor grades for facilities and a lack of assessment of their current buildings. According to the report, the average school building is 36 years old. Idaho's transportation, including highways and transit options, also received poor marks for a lack of funding and a reliance on federal aid.

"As civil engineers, we have a responsibility to preserve the life and health of the public. Our hope is that with this knowledge, the public will urge public leaders to prioritize infrastructure," said Pat White, ASCE Region 8 governor.

The report was completed by using information gathered from state agencies, the Community Planning Association, and federal transportation studies. The grades were compiled by looking at many different criteria, including condition, maintenance, age and others.

"I feel like the student who just got his report card and has to go home to explain to his parents," said Tom Cole, chief engineer at the Idaho Transportation Department. "We do the best we can, but we're not the one who can increase those funds at will."

This report came after a bill to grant GARVEE funding to aid Idaho's bridges was defeated in the House. Meridian Republican Rep. Marv Hagedorn approached the ASCE staff after the presentation.

"I tried the exact same argument with the exact same numbers," said Rep. Hagedorn.

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