BOISE -- Idaho's infrastructure, it's the roads and you drive on, the water you drink, and more. A new study released Thursday says it needs constant improvement and could become unsafe.
America's infrastructure could use an overhaul and Idaho's isn't an exception to that, said Greg Diloreto, president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which authored the study.
Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jim Hammond (R-Coeur d'Alene) points out the ASCE could stand to benefit from new projects spurred by the study. Nevertheless, Hammond doesn't refute most of the grades handed out.
Idaho did alright in areas like wastewater (B-) and energy (C+). However, the Gem State received some barely-passing grades in areas of transportation, receiving a D+ in bridges, state highways, and a D in transit. The study says roads and bridges need to be replaced and could become unsafe.
We can't make the money, we only work with what we have, said Tom Cole, chief engineer for the Idaho Transportation Department.
Those at ITD say the infrastructure is the best their budget can buy right now and hopefully will remain intact until the economy improves.
We'll do everything we can with the money we have available and stretch it as far as we can, said Cole.
In this down economy, most Idaho lawmakers seem to agree that more money is needed for Idaho's infrastructure. However, both legislators we talked to used a leaky roof metaphor to show why the state can, or can't afford to find those funds.
It's sort of like a homeowner who defers maintenance on the home for so many years, said Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise). The roof is leaking and suddenly you have gutter problems, and all of these things add up, and we arrive at a point where we can't pay for any of it.
You may have a leaky roof and the real solution is to replace the roof, said Hammond. But if you don't have the money, you're probably just going to patch what you can do to get by, and the state's in exactly the same position.
Cronin and Hammond also disagreed on how Idaho's infrastructure is affecting what business is drawn to the state. Cronin believes companies are going elsewhere to find stronger infrastructure. While Hammond says Idaho's fiscal responsibility attracts business.