It doesn’t matter if you’re really, really smart; you’re not automatically the class valedictorian every year. Even the Stanley Cup has to be returned and earned back each season. Same true for a community’s public infrastructure.
ASCE – the country’s leading association of civil engineers – just issued their quadrennial report card for the nation’s infrastructure. America’s overall grade was a D . Here in Pennsylvania, we did a tiny bit better, squeaking by with a C-. The Commonwealth’s best grades were for solid waste and education, both of which received B-; the worst were for roads and transit, each earning a D-.
The association’s report did not break their transcripts down to the county or municipal levels. But according to the criteria they used – condition, performance, funding, and capacity – I think Cranberry would be rated as an overachiever, breaking the grading curve with its high levels of maintenance, design, and operational savvy. I’d give us at least a B, or maybe even better.
But it’s not a static picture. At one time or another, just about every road, bridge, and water system in the state was new and wonderful and near the top of its class. But things wear out, conditions change, regulations expand, and expectations grow. So without constant reinvestment, things which were once great, eventually earn failing grades.
Anyone who has owned a home understands that: you don’t just buy a house and consider yourself done with it. Over time, you’ll need to replace the roof, the furnace, the windows, the circuit breaker, the driveway, and so on. You’re never through buying a house; you have to keep buying it over and over again, piece by piece.
The same applies to municipal infrastructure. Bridges deteriorate, water lines crack, roads break up, sewage exceeds treatment capacity, equipment fails, space needs change, etc.
So keeping ahead of their inexorable decline and the constantly evolving needs of the people who depend on them, requires ongoing vigilance, hands-on care, and continuous reinvestment.
That’s what Cranberry is focused on right now. For example, we just built a new pump station with enough capacity to meet our water needs for the next generation. We’re about to start work on a new high-capacity water line along Executive Drive. We’re beginning the first phase Glen Rape Road reconstruction. We’re expanding our signal control network to keep ahead of traffic. We’re replacing a deteriorating playground in Community Park. We’re resurfacing seven miles of local roads. And we’re starting to study the capacity needs that our sewage treatment plant will face over the coming decades.
Rebuilding, restoring and renewing our community infrastructure is an unending process, and it comes at a cost. But, as our Board of Supervisors has made clear, remaining on the honor roll in all those respects is not only achievable, it is fundamental to Cranberry’s long-term success. So, like the diligent student, we will continue working, every semester, to keep up our grades.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about our infrastructure. Email me at email@example.com