Today at our house in Fuquay Varina, all the lights went out, followed in seconds by a loud boom. It took us a few minutes to figure out that a local electric transformer a mile or so away had probably exploded, most likely from an overload in the 99 degree heat. It took about 2 hours to restore electricity in our neighborhood.
Last week, a bridge collapsed in my childhood home state of Minnesota. I grew up just outside of Minneapolis and crossed the Mississippi River many times on I-35. Over 5,000 bridges here in North Carolina are substandard, dozens of them here in Southern Wake County.
Last summer, Swift Creek, Lake Wheeler, and Lake Benson were flooded with millions of gallons of raw sewage after a pipe break in the Cary Sewer system. Cary plans to expand this system to run many more miles of pipe with raw sewage passing by Apex and Holly Springs to end up in the middle of the New Hill community, almost 15 miles away.
In 2006, only 68% of North Carolina students entering the 9th grade in 2002 graduated with a diploma 4 years later. In this age of global competition, high school dropouts on average earn less, engage in more crime, use more public services, suffer poorer health, and are less engaged in the civic life of our communities.
Most citizens expect our elected officials to take care of the “Bread and Butter” of government: Roads, Schools, and Public Utilities. This is the mundane, boring, expensive, but occasionally disastrous area simply called “Infrastructure”.
But often our elected officials neglect their responsibility to care for our public infrastructure. They engage in partisan bickering, work on private agendas, obstruct common ground solutions, and bow to wealthy special interests instead of focusing on the basic needs of our community.
Let’s put our common interest first and work together to finally address the challenges of growth, aging, and past neglect and make progress on improving and sustaining our Roads, Schools, and Public Utilities.
And if we don’t? Transformers explode, bridges collapse, pipes break, children fail, and we, as a community, lose.