San Diego’s infrastructure funding gap soars past $4B, more than doubling in just three years

San Diego’s serious lack of funding for critical infrastructure projects continues to grow as many projects built during the city’s explosive growth in the 1950s and 1960s reach the end of their life expectancy.

The city’s outstanding infrastructure – the gap between projected infrastructure needs over the next five years and the funding available for them – exceeded $ 4 billion for the first time this winter.

The $ 4.12 billion gap is a 36 percent increase over last winter, when city officials estimated the gap at $ 3.02 billion, more than double the $ 1.86 billion gap just estimated at $ 4.0 billion. Three years ago.

The increase is due in part to new government orders, rising material costs during the pandemic and the city’s greater attention to the backlog of its infrastructure, thoroughly evaluating all its assets in recent years.

However, James Nagelvoort, the city’s director of public works, said the main driver of growth was the age of so many bridges, roads, sewers, storm sewers and other post-World War II infrastructure.

“There were so many more assets built in the 1950s and 1960s than there were before that time, and those assets are coming to an end – they are coming to the end of their useful lives,” he said. “So we should expect more things to be addressed as we look to the future.”

Another reason for the steady increase in infrastructure shortages is a series of recent evaluations of city facilities. This includes the city’s first comprehensive analysis of its park system presented in October, which showed $ 833 million in required repairs and upgrades.

San Diego is the only city in the region to have evaluated all of its infrastructure in recent years and the only city to calculate the infrastructure funding gap each winter – a practice that began seven years ago.

While the funding gap is scary, city officials say they would rather know where they are than stay in the dark and throw the box in the street for future city leaders.

The rising cost of completing projects is another factor in the growing infrastructure funding gap, Nagelvoort said.

“Construction costs are constantly increasing and design costs are constantly increasing,” he said. “When COVID hit, the issue of procurement became very difficult.”

Other factors include new regulations requiring waterways to be cleaner, neighborhoods safer from floods and buildings to be seismic, Nagelvoort said.

Much of the gap could potentially be filled by President Joe Biden’s $ 1.2 trillion Investment and Jobs Act last year.

In addition to setting up special city subcommittees to analyze Biden’s bill and how the city’s future projects will fit in with it, Mayor Todd Gloria has set up an external working group with other regional bodies to coordinate local efforts.

Nagelvoort cited federal money as great news for San Diego, but noted that some of the city’s infrastructure needs will not be met.

“This is the largest investment I have ever seen from the federal government,” he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity, but it does not necessarily solve all the problems.”

Federal money also has a downside. Nagelvoort said the sharp increase in infrastructure by all government agencies is expected to increase demand and competition for contractors and materials, raising costs even higher.

The new analysis of the funding gap of the city’s infrastructure covers only the next five years and not the longer-term needs of the city. It also excludes some projects and priorities based on uncertainty about them or the difficulty of calculating their cost.

Things excluded from the analysis include the expansion of the seafront conference center, facilities that may be affected by sea level rise, and library projects that may be included in a new general library plan that is expected to be finalized next year.

The biggest funding gaps are $ 1.4 billion for stormwater projects, $ 700 million for parks, $ 594 million for much-needed upgrades to existing facilities, $ 322 million for roads, $ 222 million for new fire stations, $ 220 million, and $ 181 million for bridges.

The city’s Independent Budget Analyst plans to publish an analysis of the new infrastructure funding gap before the City Council is scheduled to discuss it on March 8th.

San Diego’s infrastructure funding gap soars past $4B, more than doubling in just three years Source link San Diego’s infrastructure funding gap soars past $4B, more than doubling in just three years

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