This week, NCPR is airing a series of stories about New York state’s fragile, badly eroded infrastructure. While listening, I’ve been joggling up and down Rt. 73 and 9N, careening from pothole to pothole.
Maybe it was unfair to package this series during mud season, but it’s hard not to feel a little dilapidated when your head is hitting the roof of your pick-up.
One thing that everyone agrees — right, left, center — is that infrastructure really matters.
If you can’t get your goods and services to market cheaply, safely and efficiently, you have no choice. You have to take your business and your jobs elsewhere.
It will be interesting going forward to see whether Governor Andrew Cuomo can find a way to shore up problem roads, bridges and dams while also squeezing the budget into a shrinking box.
The last couple of major global-scale crises — in New Orleans, then Haiti and now in Japan — suggests just what life looks like when these amenities go away.
I know those are extreme examples. We’re not likely to face a full-on earthquake, hurricane or a tsunami any time soon. But gradual erosion is also a powerful force of nature.
What happens if we continue to let things slide? What if we don’t maintain a modern, state-of-the-art power grid? What happens if our road and rail systems fall into deeper disrepair?
On the positive side, we have an example in the Crown Point Bridge of a project that can get started quickly and efficiently.
Government planners in New York and Vermont tossed aside tomes of paperwork and red tape, with no apparent adverse impacts.
Maybe Albany should consider making these kinds of investments now. The returns, in the form of immediate jobs and a more efficient economy down the road, could be transformative.
Borrowing money to balance the budget, or pay for new programs, is obviously a bad idea.
But borrowing money to rebuild an incredibly modern, efficient infrastructure — everything from clean water to fast rail — is an investment worth looking at.