As an elected public servant at the local level, I am just as concerned about the condition of our roads as all constituents, as well as those in the state house considering funding issues in Columbia this week. I am very concerned about the financial pressure that is being forced down to lower levels of civil governance, as a result of our crumbling roads. I want to share two pictures. I believe pictures are often worth a thousand words.
This is an area of Sweetwater Road in Edgefield County that was repaired in March, 2017, less than two months ago, and the work is already caving in. I do not care how much additional tax revenue we raise and provide to the companies / crews repairing our roads – money will not solve this problem.
One might say this is an isolated incident, and unfair. Perhaps. I have driven a lot of roads, not only in our county and state, but in our country. We have a significant problem as it relates to our nation’s infrastructure, and the issue isn’t always simply providing more money to the problem.
I am going to close by taking the issue away from roads, and encourage all my friends, both citizens and those currently serving in elected public office, to read the book That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. I don’t agree with everything in their book, but it opens comparing the drive and work ethic of various cultures, and how that impacts national outcomes. Friedman and Madelbaum specifically contrast our republics ability to construct and maintain infrastructure in the 21st Century to that of our competitors, China and India. They highlight the time it took to construct on opulent high rise office building in a thriving city of China to the time it is currently taking the Washington DC Metro Authority to repair escalators in our aging metro stations. Being a frequent user of the DC Metro, I concur with their assessment. Our success / performance in that area, just like the pictures above, is putting our citizenry in grave danger, on multiple levels.
My gut tells me we need more average citizens reading the book I mentioned, and perhaps choosing to run for office to replace some long term public servants who have managed our decline in these critically important areas. That might sound harsh, but when I look at the pictures above, and listen to the rhetoric coming out of many, who say the issue is solely funding, I simply disagree, and feel we need more citizens engaged in the debate.