The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun on state infrastructure report card:
Because of Hurricane Sandy, a lot of infrastructure — highways, bridges, seaports, airports — will have to be rebuilt, repaired or renovated in the hard-hit Northeastern U.S.
Call it an unanticipated benefit of a natural catastrophe; what nature destroys will be rebuilt.
Here in Florida we have once again made it through the hurricane season without sustaining much damage. But at this point Florida's infrastructure really doesn't need much help from nature to deteriorate. Human neglect is taking its toll.
Civil engineers in Florida released their annual "report card" on the state of the state's infrastructure. And, simply put, Florida isn't making the grade.
Our highways got a C from the Florida Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Flood control rated a D-minus, as did our energy infrastructure. Bridges rated a respectable B, but seaports and transit got a C, and schools a D-minus. (The complete report card can be read online at www.infrastructurereportcard.org.)
For the most part, infrastructure grades either stayed the same or declined since the last report card, in 2008.
"Florida is a critical part of our national infrastructure system," said Maria Fernandez-Porrata, chair of the Florida Section Government Relations Committee. "If our state cannot improve its infrastructure, then not only Floridians, but families across the country, are going to see prices rise, GDP shrink, and our economy remain stagnant."
For all this year's campaign rhetoric about the economy, there has been precious little discussion about the job-killing impacts of infrastructure deterioration.
"Florida ports, Florida roads, and Florida bridges are all responsible for bringing goods in and out of our country," said Eric Czerniejewski, who headed up the 2012 Report Card Committee. "As a state, we have fallen behind in building a modern infrastructure system that will be sustainable in a post-recession economy."
If only thanks to Sandy, some infrastructure improvements in the northeast are inevitable. Meanwhile, here in Florida, the continuing neglect of our roads, ports, airports, wastewater and other infrastructure needs will continue to have very real, and very expensive, consequences for the state's economy and well-being.
Maybe what we need here in the Sunshine State is a good hurricane by way of a wake-up call.