Sinkholes, and worse


Toledo's sinkhole, caused by a broken water line, made national news. A few days ago, another broken water main, at Grantwood and Yellowstone in West Toledo, caused havoc.

As Mayor Mike Bell has reminded Toledoans, our water and sewer system needs repair. We must be willing to spend money to fix it, or there will many more such problems.

But the whole country needs to attend to public infrastructure. An investment of tax dollars in infrastructure repair, locally and nationally, would create much-needed jobs.

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers assesses the nation’s infrastructure. Its report card assigns each state a grade. On the new report card, Ohio gets a C-minus.

Since 1998, the engineers’ grades nationally have been near failing — averaging D’s — because of delayed maintenance and underinvestment. On this year’s report card, America’s grade for infrastructure rose slightly, to a D-plus. Our nation’s roads, bridges, dams, and highways are falling apart.

Ohio findings from the report card:

● Our state will have $12.6 billion in drinking-water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.

● In the same period, Ohio will have $14.2 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs.

● Nearly one in six bridges in Ohio — 4,311 of 27,045 — are functionally obsolete.

● Driving on roads that need repair costs Ohio motorists $1.685 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — $212 per motorist.

This national problem needs a national discussion. But it is invisible to Congress and many of our national media. We’d better wake up to this crisis, or start wearing crash helmets for trips to the neighborhood supermarket.