Conditions of Utah’s infrastructure determined to be mediocre

Posted at 9:29 PM, Feb 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-24 23:30:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- In April of 2013, a neighborhood in Murray found itself underwater when the canal above them gave way. That same year, in June, crews in Weber County were tending to a massive break in a levee.

Fast forward to 2015 -- a report released Tuesday on Utah’s infrastructure comes as no surprise, according to those behind it.

“We simply cannot ignore the fact that those infrastructure elements were built for a different purpose, but they’re in a different area than they were intended to be,” said David Eckhoff of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The organization gave Utah a C+ for the conditions in the state, higher than the national grade of D+.

Roads, bridges, transit, dams and solid waste earned B grades. When it came to the state’s drinking water and supply, waste water, storm water and hazardous waste, the ASCE gave Utah C grades. However, the state started to slip below average in the analysis of canals and levees, which earned a D.

“Most of these were built over 100 years ago, some of them over 150 years ago,” Eckhoff said. “We need to take the bull by the horns and adopt a good canal management program.”

According to Eckhoff, the state will need to spend more than $60 billion over the next 20 years to address infrastructure problems.

During a press conference Tuesday, Gov. Gary Herbert acknowledged the issue and pointed to proposals, such as a gas tax as possible funding solutions.

“If we’re going to build them, we need to maintain them,” Herbert said. “There’s no question we are starting to fall behind in what I would call deferred maintenance. That has been shrinking over the years.”

The state should be allocating approximately 1.5-2 percent of their transportation dollars for maintenance funding, according to Herbert.

“If we want to continue to be a progressive and respected urban area, metropolis, we need to think about how we deal more with transit,” Eckhoff said.