- Politics and Social Issues
Cracks & Potholes: Crumbling Urban Infrastructure
Cracks & Potholes
There are a number of things people who live in cities, towns and villages have in common; however, it is likely the most common compliant heard concerns potholes. Why does this matter, well.
Around the world people are moving into urban centres. The pressure this puts on urban resources can be readily seen, potholes perhaps being the most visible evidence of how, in far too many urban centres, the municipal infrastructure is crumbling.
There are a number of ways various cities have responded to environmental concerns. City planners have an opportunity to revitalize low income areas by embracing urban agricultural enterprises. Urban agricultural enterprises go beyond the traditional community garden as they do more than green a space and enable people to grow some of their own food.
When looking for land that is appropriate for urban agricultural enterprises lets not forget rooftops. If the rooftops can support the weight then the space that may available for urban food production expands.
There are other advantages to greening the roof with gardens, for example, native plants can be used and thus preserved.
However, let’s get back to the ground level. If you drive, or for that matter ride in someone else’s car, you know about potholes. Car owners are taking a hit in their pocket book because of all too frequent encounters with them.
Around here, taxi drivers are avoiding certain streets because the potholes are too prevalent. Fortunately, because the cabs use a flat rate system, these detours do not cost the passenger, but can result in a longer ride and thereby eat into the driver’s time.
Sidewalks are not much better. They are cracked and in a very poor state of repair. The climate here does not help. Personal injury does happen. I have tripped more than once, fortunately, no obvious injury resulted, but others have hurt backs and knees.
Municipalities are forced to devote a significant percentage of their budget to repair the crack and potholes. The principal way cities raise funds to pay for roads, etcetera, is to raise taxes and in this day and age it is an unwise political move to raise taxes. So how do they pay for the needed repairs?
They can cuts costs, but this usually results in a loss of services and jobs, neither is a desirable outcome.
There is a way municipalities can reduce operating costs and perhaps even lower taxes and that is twofold.
The first is to reduce energy use, that is developing a municipal energy conservation plan.
The second part is to incorporate renewable energy in the energy mix. Power the municipal office with the appropriate alternative energy and use the saving to pay for road and sidewalk repair. Other municipal buildings, sports arenas, conference centres, for example could also adopt, in phases, if necessary, renewable energy.
There is an initial expenditure, but wise investment in appropriate renewable technology can have a short pay back period. Money save can then be devoted to fixing the cracks and potholes.
Now, a wise municipal government would be certain that some of the money saved on the energy bill would go towards tax reduction.
Crack and potholes are visible evidence of urban decay, but there is a way to reduce and eliminate that evidence and it all begins with incorporating appropriate renewable energy into the urban environment.
Cracks and potholes are a fact of life for motorists everywhere, especially in Northern Ontario where extreme weather breeds ideal conditions for road damage