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Aaron747
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US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 12:44 am

While we're busy sending billions off to foreign lands, let us take a moment to consider a serious threat to our own future economic capacity here at home. This is an issue that rarely gets any press, but those of us in the planning community are painfully aware of.

U.S. Infrastructure Gets A D-plus

msnbc.com

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 — America’s infrastructure is full of cracks, leaks and holes and is getting worse, according to an analysis by civil engineers that concludes the nation’s transportation, water and energy systems have shown little improvement since they were given an overall grade of D-plus in 2001.

A REPORT by the American Society of Civil Engineers released Thursday assessed trends over the last two years in the condition of 12 categories of infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, drinking water and energy.

The report blamed the deteriorating infrastructure on a weak economy, limited federal programs, population growth and the threat of terrorism, which diverted money to security.

“Americans’ concerns about security threats are real, but so are the threats posed by crumbling infrastructure,” Thomas Jackson, ASCE president, said in a statement. “It doesn’t matter if the dam fails because cracks have never been repaired or if it fails at the hands of a terrorist. The towns below the dam will still be devastated.”

There was no progress for schools, which received the worst grade - D-minus - from the engineers in 2001. The report said three out of four school buildings are inadequate. They estimate it will cost more than $127 billion to build new classrooms and modernize outdated schools.

Energy transmission earned a D-plus two years ago, and the engineers said the trend is getting worse. Investment in transmission fell by $115 million annually, to $2 billion a year in 2000 from $5 billion in 1975. Actual capacity increased by only 7,000 megawatts a year, 30 percent less than needed to keep up with power demand.

LONGER RUSH HOURS HURT ROADS

Roads didn’t fare much better. “The nation is failing to even maintain the substandard conditions we currently have,” the report said, adding that the average rush hour grew by more than 18 minutes between 1997 and 2000.

The engineers’ report also saw no improvement on bridges, noting that 27.5 percent of U.S. bridges were structurally deficient or obsolete in 2000.

Transportation systems showed signs of decline, despite increased spending over the past six years. “Efforts to maintain the systems are outpaced by growth in ridership,” the report said.

Dwayne Kalynchuk, president of the American Public Works Association, said investing in the nation’s infrastructure needs to be more of a priority.

“We’re all certainly aware of issues, of emergencies, and investing in emergencies immediately,” Kalynchuk said. “But I think here we have an emergency that is going to catch up to us in the next few years if we don’t deal with it today.”

The Bush administration in May proposed spending $247 billion on roads, bridges and mass transit, 13 percent more than the previous six-year plan.

Rep. Don Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has proposed a $375 billion spending plan, to be paid for by indexing the gasoline tax to inflation. Young, R-Alaska, said in a statement that the report reinforced his serious concerns about the state of the U.S. infrastructure.

MORE BAD GRADES
“If we don’t provide adequate investment in transportation and water infrastructure, we will dearly regret it in the long run,” Young said.

The report’s other assessments of currents trends included:

-No improvement for aviation, which received a D in 2001. “Little is being done to capitalize on the low growth period after 9/11 to address the nation’s aviation infrastructure needs.”

-Signs of decline for drinking water and wastewater. The nation’s 54,000 drinking water systems are aging rapidly and some sewer systems are 100 years old, while federal funding remains flat.

-Declining progress for dams, with the number of unsafe dams rising to nearly 2,600 and 21 dam failures in the past two years.


Aging Infrastructure

Grades for 12 categories of infrastructure given by the American Society of Civil Engineers “2003 Progress Report for America’s Infrastructure.”

2001 Grade 2003 Trend
Roads D+ Declining
Bridges C No progress
Transit C- Declining
Aviation D Improving
Schools D- Improving
Drinking water D Declining
Wastewater D Declining
Dams D Declining
Solid waste C+ No progress
Hazardous waste D No progress
Navigable waterways D+ Declining
Energy D+ Declining
Overall D+
 
KROC
Posts: 18919
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 1:01 am

This is why I say that we need to STOP giving out so much Aid, getting involved in foreign affairs (which includes a war with Iraq) and other such things and start worrying about ourselves for a damn change.
 
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Aaron747
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 1:04 am

Word to that KROC.

I'm fucking tired of watching billions fly out the window to benefit nobody other than a few foreign or American energy barons. We'll spend whatever necessary to further a strategic aim, even if it means letting our own infrastructure go to the dogs for the sake of political favors in another region that hates us. Yay.
 
Qb001
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 1:05 am

American Society of Civil Engineers

It's not as if these guys have an interest in asking the government to invest gazillions $ in those infrastructures...
 
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Aaron747
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 1:13 am

It's pretty hard to exaggerate infrastructure needs and be taken seriously. You either have the capacity or you don't - and we're running out.
 
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modernArt
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 3:28 am

This pains me to type this...but Qb001 hit the nail on the head.

There are infastructure issues, without question. But to suggest that the U.S. is falling apart at the seams is silly. I can't think (from a personal experience) of a major U.S. metro area that I been to the last year that didn't have some sort of large scale road expansion project underway.

The school district I pay taxes to, Houston Independent has many schools under construction or rehabilitation at the present time.

Even with the tepid economy, the construction industry is booming. Look around. Public works projects are abundant from Portland, Me to Portland, OR.
 
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Aaron747
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 4:06 am

Your experience in Houston is obviously different from what other localities are encountering.

Part of the blame is certainly regulatory and a matter of local growth politics combined, but to get anything done, the money's gotta be there, and the scourge of NIMBYism quelled. It's a problem nearly everywhere in America.

Here in California, we're in trouble up the wazoo. Less than 60% of the state's inventory of small bridges and overpasses have received seismic upgrades in a program that began in 1995. Here in the Bay Area, we're just now starting construction on a new $6 billion eastern span for the Bay Bridge that has required replacement since the 1989 earthquake. By the time construction is complete, costs will likely soar to $9 billion.

Freeway capacity is at an all-time low in Los Angeles, and the Bay Area isn't far behind though the dot bust helped out a bit. Despite the periodic local resistance to new transit service and more significantly, freeway widenings, local officials throughout the state have demonstrated an earnest effort to get new things built. The money just hasn't been there.

Now, using a word like 'crumbling' may be hyperbolic at this point, but in the near future it may not be. Old sewer and water systems are increasingly under strain with local governments putting off upgrades due to budget constraints. How long will that continue? Does fecal matter have to start washing up on beaches again for people to notice?

Public transportation is inadequate in nearly every US metro except NYC, DC, and Chicago. Improvements don't come cheap. The average cost of tunneling subway these days is close to $120 million/mile in an urban area. Better yet, airports. What happens when the economy rebounds? What will we do when traffic levels start climbing above pre-9/11 levels again? Oh, that's right. We'll be playing the usual game of lag behind/catch-up. New runways can cost upwards of $150 million to say nothing of facilities expansions and infrastructure just providing airport *access.* Even the scaled-back upgrades proposed for LAX come in at close to $10 billion. The list goes on...

 
lehpron
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RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 5:02 am

"America’s infrastructure is full of cracks, leaks and holes and is getting worse"

All that is needed to, ahem, let another 9/11 happen.

Don't give me blind crap about the bolded text.
 
cba
Posts: 4228
Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2000 2:02 pm

RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 5:07 am

Hardly surprising with the amount of money we're wasting in Iraq. If you want something that will jumpstart the economy, rebuild the country. Building new roads, briges, facilities, etc. will provide contracts to many corporations, and TONS of new jobs for Americans.
 
charleslp
Posts: 321
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2001 9:33 am

RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 7:15 am

If I ever become president (which is highly unlikely), the first thing I am going to do is pass something like a National Infrastructure Improvement Act (NIIA), which will fix all the roads, improve all the bridges, fix the national power grid, and any other stuff that needs fixing.
 
jhooper
Posts: 5561
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2001 8:27 pm

RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 7:33 am

security is important, but not at the expense of cutting corners on safety and infrastructure, imho.
 
Alessandro
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Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2001 3:13 am

RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 10:33 am

Yes the Blackout03, seemed a bit strange to me. Like a unknown millium bug that was 3 years late....
 
L-188
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: US Infrastructure Gets 'D+'; It's Gonna Cost Us

Sat Sep 20, 2003 12:00 pm

ASCE?

Aren't they the trade group that will do all the engineering work for all of these improvements?

Kind of makes you wonder about the source.

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