Monday, January 5, 2015

How parts of the US manifest getting poorer

My local municipality monthly newsletter came in the mail over the weekend along with the local utility bill. News You Can Use put out a new snow policy and it's a statement admitting growing financial problems (at least between the lines).

Mains and secondaries will only be salted at intersections, railroad tracks, school zones, curves, bridges and around hospitals. Once the snow event has stopped, we will salt the mains and the secondaries all the way through and then we will move into the residentials. We will only salt residentials at stop signs once the snow event has stopped. We will no longer salt mid-block of the residentials
It's in little statements of service cutbacks and quietly deferred maintenance that between the lines often announce financial decay in the US. During the recent fiscal crisis, miles and miles of asphalted road were converted back to gravel. The trend is getting push back but even oil booming Texas tried it out in 2013 on two roads before public anger made them permanently shelve the idea a year later. The Texas case might be a matter of a fiscally responsible state running into the high depletion nature of shale oil wells but that circumstance seems to be an outlier.

So keep an eye out for those little announcements. Lowered salt usage on icy streets, asphalt going back to gravel, changes like these that can be pushed through relatively quietly are going to be more frequent signs than big changes like government pension cuts and municipal bankruptcy.