(photo credit: Dean Shareski)
There’s a first for everything and the city of San Diego recently took a major step in developing its first long-term infrastructure plan.
Surprisingly, the city nicknamed America’s Finest City has never had an infrastructure money strategy in place, but the City Council’s newly formed Infrastructure Committee, spearheaded by councilman Mark Kersey, just approved and began working on a plan to repair roads, create sidewalks, improve parks, expand libraries and build new fire stations.
It’s no surprise infrastructure is a top priority for the councilman who identified the need for a long-term investment plan in January.
“Most large government agencies have a long-term infrastructure plan of this sort,” said Councilman Kersey, chair of the Infrastructure Committee. “Not only does San Diego not have one, there’s no record we’ve ever had one and that really explains how it is we got into this situation in the first place.”
Every major city has its infrastructure problems. Pull any motorist aside and I’m sure they’ll have story after story about potholes, cracks on sidewalks, aging buildings and more. How bad is the problem in San Diego, though.?
“San Diego was ranked fifth as having the worst streets in the nation. It’s a car culture, much like L.A. So people travel a lot. Mass transit is not where it is in some places. So we haven’t really been doing a good job of taking care of our streets and roads and sidewalks,” said Kersey.
Years of neglect won’t be wiped away right away. But, to give you an idea of how much money would need to be invested in the city, recent numbers identify at least $898 million for infrastructure improvement backlog. But that doesn’t include known issues like broken sidewalks or run-down parks and recreation buildings.
The plan would help guide future investments by identifying needed projects, priorities, funding and affordability. It will cover five years from fiscal year 2015 through 2019.
In October, the committee approved a $120 million infrastructure bond. If approved by the City Council, it will pay for more than $43 million in road repairs, another $21 million will go towards storm drains and it will pay for three new fire stations.
“When complete, this plan will give us the ability to invest the limited funding we have to the highest priority projects. It will also take into account the funding sources available and allow us to allocate them I a way that has the biggest impact,” said Kersey.
The draft plan will be submitted for the Mayor’s and Council’s approval by May 2014. If all give the thumbs up, repairs would start the first quarter of 2015.