City Club of Eugene: Priorities for Eugene's Infrastructure

Aug 15, 2016

Recorded on: July 22, 2016

Air Date: August 15, 2016

Did you ever wonder why one local street is being spruced up with a topcoat of pavement, while another appears to be crumbling through neglect? Have you ever asked what became of the much ballyhooed plan to upgrade your favorite park? In this program, Kurt Corey, the Executive Director of Eugene’s Public Works Division, will bring you up to speed on plans and priorities for infrastructure development. His goal is to provide some insight into how his division identifies and evaluates problems and sets priorities for solving them.

To set the context, he’ll begin with a summary of the most recent comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) every four years.

Using a simple A to F school report card format, the ASCE report awards grades for current infrastructure conditions and makes recommendations for improvement. Since 1998, the nation’s grades have been near failing due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories. Overall, grades fall below C; in the newest report the GPA inched up just slightly to D+ average from a D in the previous report.  While the modest progress is encouraging, it is clear that we have a significant backlog of overdue maintenance across our infrastructure systems, a pressing need for modernization, and an immense obligation to create reliable, long-term funding sources to establish a more promising infrastructure legacy. Corey will report the results for Eugene in particular and Oregon more generally, in comparison with national infrastructure conditions.

Corey oversees the Eugene Public Works Department’s six operating divisions, with more than 400 employees.  The department is responsible for planning, constructing, maintaining, and operating Eugene’s streets, bridges, sidewalks, bike paths, traffic control devices, street lights, drainage, water quality and related natural resources systems, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, Eugene Airport facilities, urban forests, and park facilities. Corey joined the City of Eugene staff in 2001, having previously worked for fifteen years for in Billings, Montana as City Engineer and Public Works Director. He has more than 35 years of total public works experience.  He holds degrees from Carroll College in Helena, Montana, and from Oregon State University. He is licensed to practice engineering and land surveying in Montana and Oregon.

copyright, KLCC 2016