It’s an undeniably boring phrase: “asset management plan.”

But it reflects a new era in local government infrastructure development.

The phrase popped up in recent years with the state’s Community Crossings Matching Grant support for local road paving projects.

Community Crossings, as originally outlined, dangled the prospect of significant state dollars but with the requirement that those dollars would be used sensibly.

That’s where the asset management plan comes in.

The Indiana Department of Transportation required that local government entities taking part in Community Crossings actually do some homework. That required developing an inventory, assessing road conditions and putting together a plan for improvements, maintenance and upgrades.

Old timers will tell you that it wasn’t all that long ago that priorities on things like road paving were often based upon who won the last election.

There might be a priority list for road improvements, but all too often it was the case that a newly-elected official would get his road moved up on the list. There was nothing illegal about it, but it smelled just the same.

Requiring that cities and counties establish asset management plans and requiring that those plans be routinely updated and reviewed by INDOT moves decisions away from the seat of the pants, good old boy methods of the past.

It also assures that Community Crossings funds are far less likely to be misspent.

Boring stuff? Sure.

But it’s also the stuff of good government.
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