Sierra Vista Herald
Anyone familiar with the rigors of agriculture in the Midwest can explain the commonly held belief that farmers are typically pessimists. When the weather is clear and sunny — it’s too dry for the corn. When it’s raining — there is too much water for the crops and it’s impossible to work in muddy fields.
We’re betting that’s the sentiment of the Arizona Department of Transportation these days, after a recent report ranked the state’s roads and bridges among the best in the nation.
An analysis by USA Today, and the transportation research group, TRIPP, told America that Arizona ranks sixth among states with roads in good condition and we are tied for third-lowest for the number of structurally deficient bridges.
One would think that would be enough to trumpet our state’s tourism efforts, telling potential visitors Arizona is a great place to come and drive around. It should also be news for business leaders trying to draw new industries to Arizona, assuring prospective businesses that we have high-quality infrastructure for transportation needs.
But good news is hard to come by if you’re working for the Arizona Department of Transportation these days. The agency that should be celebrating its own efforts relating to the state’s national ranking for roads and bridges has been impacted by budget cuts imposed by the Arizona Legislature and the federal government.
Some $350 million during the next five years will be slashed from projects the agency had planned — including maintenance to some of those same award-winning roads and bridges.
Whether the consequence of that cutback will drop Arizona from its ranking compared to other states is a wager that will only be decided after five years have passed.
What is certain, however, is that achieving the impressive national ranking took investment in our roads and bridges, and maintaining that ranking will require more of the same.