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Five-Year Plan To Address San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure Gets Green Light

The City Council's Infrastructure Committee Monday gave the Public Works Department a unanimous go-ahead to develop a five-year plan to address San Diego's crumbling roads and facilities.

The plan will give city officials a roadmap for reducing a backlog of capital projects and maintenance that is believed to be valued at around $1 billion. It will be renewed every two years and open to amendments, according to the city's Public Works Department.

"As far as we know, the city has not had a five-year infrastructure plan before and, frankly, it shows,'' said Councilman Mark Kersey, who chairs the committee.

The plan will be drafted through March, vetted by city officials and the public, and finalized next fall.

It is expected to cover maintenance, replacements and new facilities at the city's Civic Center complex, airports, libraries, recreation centers, storm water systems, landfills, pools, police and fire stations, lifeguard structures, streets, water treatment and distribution systems, Petco Park and Qualcomm Stadium.

City officials have embarked on a series of needs assessments of city facilities and sidewalks so they can get a more specific indication of the scope of the problem.

The City Council recently took public testimony on infrastructure priorities, both at City Hall and community meetings.

A limiting factor will be the amount of money available over the next five years.

On Thursday, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria released his five-year projection for municipal finances, which starts with a $19.1 million shortfall in the next fiscal year for basic services.

While the ensuing years offer surpluses, various initiatives approved by the City Council, along with state and federal mandates, put the projected balance sheet back in the red by tens of millions of dollars.

Some of that extra spending approved by the council is infrastructure-related, however, including operating expenses for three new fire stations and expanded library branches, plus debt service on construction bonds.

James Nagelvoort, the city's assistant director of public works, said the five-year plan will show which projects were funded and which still needed funding sources.

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