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Engineers grade Colorado Springs' infrastructure

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Oct 18 2012 01:49:05 AM CDT

Local engineers evaluate drainage, roads and other systems in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs earned two B's, a C and three D's in a report card about the city's infrastructure systems.

The southern Colorado branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the grades on Wednesday.  It's the first time the organization has created a report card for the city.  The national Society announced grades for 2008 and for the nation in 2009. 

The city's grades in the report card are as follows: 

D- for stormwater.

D for roads.

D+ for bridges.

C- for for transit.

B- for drinking water.

B for wastewater.

Stan Rader, chairman of the Society's Report Card Committee, said engineers used seven criteria in determining the grades.

"The first one was the condition of the infrastructure system," he said.  "Then we looked at the capacity.  We looked at funding, future needs, public safety."

According to the report card, the city is "at risk for multiple millions of dollars in damage" during "a 100-year storm event."  It also found the city "seriously deficient" in maintaining and replacing bridges.

However, Rader said the city's growth puts it in a better situation that it otherwise would be in.

"With that growth came new infrastructure systems, so those are relatively young systems which tend to improve our grades -- as compared to older, very established communities you might see back on the East Coast or something," he said.

The city received credit for some progress, however -- such as building the Southern Delivery System for future water supplies, and promoting renewal of  the Rural Transportation Authority tax for road improvements.  But much more money is needed for further infrastructure improvements and upgrades.

Marla Koupal, a resident along the crumbling Mirage drainage channel, said she supports bringing back the Stormwater Enterprise Fee that was used to fund improvements until it became politically unpopular and was repealed by voters.

"I personally don't like to pay taxes if the management isn't going to be good. But if I see responsible management of those dollars, I don't have any problem contributing to my community and making it successful."

Rader said the report card provides few new details, but serves as a reminder to the city about how extensive its infrastructure needs are, and to invite discussion and ideas on how to improve the situation.

About 20 engineers spent 14 months volunteering to work on the report card, said Rader.  The next version is due in 2016.

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