News and information from our partners

Infrastructure isn’t sexy but critical for rural Idaho




We need less sexy talk — less tickling of the ears — in our politics this season, and more on the humdrum essentials that really matter to our everyday lives.

Well, that’s not fun. But we’re going to recommend it anyway.


David Rauzi

Voters will be deciding their picks at the primary just eight weeks away, and some of those one-party races will be decided and done in May. That behooves us to be inquiring hard now, and early, on issues to grill these men and women on, to help sort out the wheat from the chaff.

So, what on? Gun rights? Abortion? Public lands? Those are the obvious standards we’ll hear much mouth noise on this and every election.

But what about infrastructure issues in rural Idaho? The state of those roads, bridges, and water and electric systems greatly impacts our lives daily, and our personal and economic well-beings hinge on how those are managed or mismanaged. Such concerns were key for President Donald Trump, as stated in his election campaign and into his current administration, and they were also the recent focus for Senate testimony by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“We need better infrastructure to connect cash crops to markets, milk from the dairy farms through the supply chain to the grocery stores, timber to lumber mills, clean water to rural households, affordable electricity to factories, teachers to students, and patients to doctors,” Perdue stated.

So, what’s this look like?

Rural communities are critical as far as national infrastructure is concerned, according to Perdue. These regions have more than 3,700 airports, almost three million miles of roadways and almost 30,000 miles of interstate highways, and 80 percent of the nation’s 55,000 “designated in poor condition” bridges. American productivity relies on 25,000 miles of inland waterways to transport in excess of 500 million tons of freight shipped from rural production sites, and this is put at risk – through congestion and repairs — by more than half of the nation’s locks and dams that are more than 50 years old. Of the nation’s 50,000 community water systems, nearly 85 percent are small rural water systems. Currently, the USDA rural water program has a backlog of more than $3.1 billion in projects awaiting funding and financing. More than 40 percent of the U.S.’ electric distribution infrastructure is provided by rural providers.

Our infrastructure has been the core of American economic success throughout our history, and to continue this requires addressing critical needs for not just ensuring maintenance and repairs but in expanding and improving this to meet future demands for growth.

“We were once the envy of the world,” Perdue stated, concerning infrastructure. “We are in danger of losing that distinct advantage over other nations, and because of that, our rural communities risk slipping farther behind in economic achievement.”

Which rural communities? All of those in Idaho County. Now, perhaps, the issue has hit home for you.

Many issues stir in the minds for the electorate, but we’re hoping you add this one to address those glad-handers when they come around this campaign season with their door hangers and ask you for your vote.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment


Information from the Free-Press and our advertisers (Want to add your business to this to this feed?)