Recently, as part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I was invited to visit the White House to discuss the Trump Administration’s infrastructure funding initiative. As a brand new mayor, I was eager for the opportunity to discuss infrastructure needs on the local level and understand how the federal government intends to partner with cities to upgrade our aging systems and deal with new growth.
During my visit, I spoke with mayors from across the country about their local needs, ranging from shipyards to flood control in the Mississippi Delta. It’s clear that every city is struggling to fund costly but necessary infrastructure projects and federal assistance is critical.
During the State of the Union, I was encouraged to hear the Trump administration double down on their promises to deal with aging infrastructure and announce their intentions to push Congress to approve a $1.5 trillion plan.
Whatever your personal feelings are about the Trump administration, there is no debating that America’s infrastructure system is crumbling and outdated. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a D+ grade and estimated that it would require $2 trillion over the next 10 years to keep American infrastructure from falling apart.
Here in Utah, we didn’t score much higher, with a grade of C+ and an estimated $60 billion over next 20 years to maintain and provide infrastructure for growing areas. According to the state’s water plan, much of Utah’s water systems are approaching it’s 50-year life and needs to be replaced.
As we move forward with renewed interest in funding infrastructure projects, I encourage my fellow local leaders to embrace technology in making our systems safer, smarter, more efficient and less costly. Tax dollars at the city level are extremely limited, but spending a little more on upgrading systems now will mean that residents will see cost savings and better services in the future. A recent report by ABI research found that enterprises, government and citizens globally could save $5 trillion by 2022 if cities utilize the technology that we embrace in our daily lives.
Innovation is rarely driven by government. In Utah, there is a concerted effort to foster and attract tech companies to our “Silicon Slopes.” Some of the brightest technological minds live right here in our state. It will be critical for cities and local governments to partner with those bright minds and Utah’s private sector to move our infrastructure into the 21st century and reimagine what a city of the future could look like.
With the national focus on funding and upgrading America’s systems, I am committed to investing in technologies that will make Sandy’s infrastructure and government services safer and more efficient for our residents.
Kurt Bradburn is the new mayor of Sandy.