On September 18, the Southern San Joaquin Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2018 Report Card for Kern County’s Infrastructure. Nine categories of infrastructure earned an overall grade of ‘C.’ Bridges received the highest grade of ‘B+,” a significant improvement over the ‘B-’ in the 2012 Kern County Report Card. Transit and parks received the lowest grades of ‘D+.’ Other categories included aviation, drinking water, parks, rail, roads, solid waste, transit and wastewater.
Overall, the report found that major investments over the past 10 years have improved Kern County’s transportation network and have increased capacity and improved levels of service. Specifically, the Thomas Roads Improvement Program and the Caltrans State Route widening project have increased capacity on roads and reduced the number of structurally deficient bridges in the region. However, sustainable funding is needed to maintain these upgraded assets.
Additionally, the Report Card finds that transit and parks infrastructure have been shortchanged by recent budget cycles and must be prioritized going forward. In both cases, as existing revenue sources have remained constant or declined, costs have continued to rise. For example, full-time park employees are now responsible for 12.6 acres; ten years ago, that employee was responsible for 9.2 acres of park upkeep. Meanwhile, Kern County’s Golden Empire Transit District & Kern Transit have invested in fleet upgrades over the last 10 years, but significant funding will be required in the coming years to accommodate potential growths in ridership and to meet anticipated state‐wide zero emission requirements.
In addition to assessing the overall health of the infrastructure, the report offers five steps to take to improve the county’s grades.
- First, the Report Card for Kern County’s Infrastructure encourages voters to vote no on Proposition 6 in November 2018. A no vote will ensure SB 1 funding remains intact.
- Second, the Report Card encourages enhanced public transit service and points out that increased use of transit reduces our traffic and keeps our air cleaner.
- Third, the Southern San Joaquin Branch encourages lawmakers to provide consistent and reliable funding for parks and recreation agencies.
- Additionally, engineers urge the construction of additional water storage reservoirs.
- Finally, the Report card recommends increasing revenue for local airports.
To read the full Report Card for Kern County’s Infrastructure, visit 2017.infrastructurereportcard.org/kerncounty.