Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Municipal Dilemma

I've mentioned how every time it rains in Torreón, roughly half the intersections in the city fill up with 18 inches or so of water. After the rains subsides, potholes as big as a humvee are left behind, seemingly across the length and breadth of the city. (The floods are equal opportunity menaces; the city's poshest commercial drag as well as its priciest residential area are two of the most effected zones.) In fact, El Siglo reports that a full 70 percent of the city's streets have damaged pavement stemming from rain storms a couple of weeks ago. It will cost the city between $20 and $25 million to fix the damage, which is quite a chunk for a mid-sized, export-reliant northern Mexican town in the middle of an economic crisis.

Since it only rains heavily here maybe five or ten times a year, this isn't a persistent problem, and there doesn't seem to be much pressure on political leaders to install a functioning citywide drainage system. Nonetheless, the damage mentioned above is a recurring event. Furthermore, the fact that a 40-minute shower can create such havoc, even if it does so only seven times a year, in a place that aspires to be one of the premier cities in the North is embarrassing. A new mayor will soon be inaugurated in Torreón; together with the state government, his predecessor sank millions into showy but basically unnecessary building projects. I'd much rather that the incoming administration go the opposite route and invest in a drainage system that will less conspicuous but far more beneficial. Although I'm not too optimistic, given that the new mayor (Eduardo Olmos) was the state official responsible for local projects over the past four years.

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