As Congress approves 55 billion dollars in corn subsidies and pays 12 billion dollars a month for the Iraq war, the infrastructure in America continues to crumble: Bridges in Minneapolis, steam pipes in Manhattan, highway collapses in Montreal and of course levee breaches in New Orleans.
The New York Times says "Transportation officials know many of the nation's 600,000 bridges are in need of repair or replacement. About one in eight has been deemed "structurally deficient," a term that typically means a component of the bridge's structure has been rated poor or worse, but does not necessarily warn of imminent collapse. Most deficient bridges, which included the span of Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, remain open to traffic."
Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG does the math and notes "13.6 percent of U.S. bridges — i.e. more than 81,000 bridges — are "functionally obsolete." He continues: "the Federal Highway Administration's annual budget appears to be hovering around $35-40 billion a year....and annual government subsidies for Amtrak come in at slightly more than $1 billion. That's $1 billion every year to help commuter train lines run."
Steam pipe explosion in New York
The Times notes:
These disasters are an indication that this country is not investing enough in keeping its vital infrastructure in good repair, engineering experts warn.
"Governments do not want to pay for maintenance because it is not sexy," said John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer and an associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Montreal Bridge collapse
No doubt now there will be a big emergency investment: in highways. No doubt Amtrak, commuter lines, and alternatives to the automobile will be ignored. Geoff says "Perhaps the best way to be "pro-American" these days is to lobby for modern, safe, and trustworthy infrastructure — and the economic efficiencies to which that domestic investment would lead."
We say make it green and sustainable as well. ::Bldgblog