Friday, February 3, 2012

Infrastructure in decline

The idea that USA infrastructure has deteriorated to the point of collapse is actually getting to be old news.  Because if you look at the problems closely enough, it becomes pretty obvious that even the parts of the infrastructure that are in pretty good shape are hopelessly mismatched to the conditions we face.

For example, USA has a vast road system that is designed to support the traffic of gasoline-powered cars.  In an era of post-Peak Oil decline, it should be obvious that most of these roads will need replacing with something that provides transportation but without the need for this ultra-premium fuel.

Even so, the infrastructure problems point to a bigger cultural issue—the lack of a maintenance ethic.  I don't even want to imagine how much it costs the economy because people do not know how to take care of their possessions—or will not do it because they cannot be bothered.

Anyway, the following article is especially well-written and has lots of charts to illustrate the death of the maintenance ethic.

Infrastructure Problems In U.S. Go Far Beyond Dollars
Matt Sledge  02/02/2012 6:52 pm

NEW YORK -- When travelers from abroad come to this city, the financial and cultural capital of the world's richest nation, two dilapidated and depressing airports greet them. The clogged runways, the leaking roofs, the maddening taxi lines, the lost travelers bumping into each other -- all these depredations are just part of flying the friendly skies to JFK or LaGuardia.

Jetsetters' laments about subpar airports, now almost a cliche, may not have been foremost on President Obama's mind when he gave his State of the Union address on January 24. But they may actually be more representative of the country's nagging infrastructure problems than the images invoked by the "crumbling roads and bridges" he referenced in that speech.

The problems America faces with its infrastructure are often much less headline-grabbing than the 2005 collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minnesota, which focused national attention on the subject in a way that has set the tone of discussion ever since. They are more often on the order of lost productivity and lost opportunity. They include other problems Obama referenced in his speech, like "a power grid that wastes too much energy; an incomplete high-speed broadband network."

If the struggle to fix America's infrastructure problem were a movie, it would be less Michael Bay than Woody Allen: not a lot of action, but also not much in the way of mass fatalities. Since 2005, there haven't been any more terrifying bridge collapses. Instead, the United States has failed to innovate and failed to maintain some key pillars of its infrastructure that are often less visible. People aren't dying, but the country is slowly losing its edge. more

1 comment:

  1. This article is great and informative article.It is especially well-written and has lots of charts to illustrate the death of the maintenance uster