Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's Go Underground!

I mentioned in an earlier post that my activist mother, Norma, has taken on the cause of replacing unsightly utility poles with underground installations.  She kicked off her effort with a letter to President Obama and will begin work on a local, grassroots level after Thanksgiving.

It is a daunting undertaking, involving the investment of federal funds, and the integration of government, utilities and private industry resources. However, this has been done in  a number of communities (San Diego and Scottsdale, for example) and the paybacks are significant.
  • Safety: If you've lived in a community with ancient, hideous utility poles, and have experienced long-lasting power outages (days into weeks), you know what I'm talking about . But those who don't, may have difficulty understanding how disastrous a situation that can be. My daughter, Julie, went through that experience a few weeks ago, after the freaky snowstorm in the northeast. It's very scary to find that nothing works, stores aren't open, and ATM machines are nothing more than non-responsive metal boxes. People become desperate when a store or gas station finally does open, and without warning an inconvenient situation escalates into a dangerous one.

  • Investment in our infrastructure: Most people understand that investment in our infrastructure is a positive move on so many fronts. 
We know how successful this can be historically, through President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Adminstration (WPA), which provided about 8 million jobs for 8 years and created amazing public works. The investment was about $13.4 billion, which was a whole heck of a lot of money back then. From Wikipedia: "The direct focus of the WPA projects changed with need. 1935 saw projects aimed at infrastructure improvement; roads, bringing electricity to rural areas, water conservation, sanitation and flood control. In 1936, as outlined in that year’s Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, public facilities became a focus; parks, buildings, utilities, airports, and transportation projects were funded. The following year, saw the introduction of agricultural pursuits in projects such as the production of marl fertilizer and the eradication of fungus pests."
It is precisely because of the high likelihood of success that certain factions within Congress oppose infrastructure renewal: they prefer our economy and country to tank, assuring Obama's defeat, rather than upgrade our infrastructure to create a safer, more functional, environment.
  •  Jobs: We need jobs for the unemployed and the underemployed. We need jobs for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are here now, and those who will be returning to our shores. We desperately need jobs in this country and infrastructure upgrades would provide them.Think about what many of those serving overseas have been doing: building roads, bridges, power systems, hospitals. They're coming home with the skills needed for just this sort of project. However, as noted above, there are those who place Party above Country, and it's important to point them out loudly and often.
Are you interested in moving this effort forward? My mother will have a website in a few weeks, but in the meantime, here are some ideas:
  • Feel free to lift verbiage from this posting, or use your own words, to write to the editor of your local paper.
  • Contact (write/call/email) elected representatives to push the general idea of infrastructure upgrade, and the specific need for underground utilities
  • Contact (same as above) utility companies, encouraging their involvement
  • Use the Facebook, Twitter and Email links at the end of this post to spread the word.
  • Talk to people about this. Really, just talk. It's as good a place to start as any.


  1. Thanks, Julie! I'll post a link when my mother's site gets up and running. It will be called (as you might imagine....) "Let's Go Underground"