Literally, America’s infrastructure is falling apart. Ranging from increased natural calamities through extensive power blackouts and collapsing bridges to mediocre roads, all these have proved that the infrastructure in the US is not up to standard. The spending on the infrastructure does not reflect value or objectives of these constructions. As such, American has not been up to speed with the rest of the world.
Thus, this collapse of infrastructure could kill the economy and jeopardize efforts to revive it. The American Society of Civil Engineers released the latest infrastructure report card in 2009 giving the US a mean grade of D (GPA). This paper focuses on roads, which received grade D, waterways, graded D- and bridges at slightly better grade, C. In order to attain grade ‘A’, America needs a five-year plan, which will see the government invest over $2.2 trillion dollars.
America’s bridges are in a devastating condition –collapsing and filled with holes (Cooper Para. 1). The federal highway administration estimates as per the national transport statistics show that about 25 percent of the bridges in the United States are structurally deficient and obsolete in terms of functionality (Gerdes 21).
As such, heavy vehicles and school buses have to take longer routes in order to use proficient bridges. These lengthy detours waste fuel and time thus economically robbing the government of resources that could be channeled elsewhere for better production (The Economist Para 16).
Almost one out of four miles of the urban interstate are categorized as exceptionally poor or in a mediocre state (American Society of Civil Engineers Para. 2). As we can see, the roads are no better. About one third of the American roads are in a poor state. American engineers society estimate that about one third of the highway fatalities are cause by the substandard road conditions, roadside hazards, and/or the old and outdated road designs (American Society of Civil Engineers Para. 3).
The American waterways and levees are remarkably undependable. Last year experienced a significant damage and loss of property and hundreds of lives after heavy rains overwhelmed the Mississippi River levees (American Society of Civil Engineers Para. 3).
American society of civil engineers estimates that over 170 levees face extremely high risk of faulting because of pitiable repair practices (American Society of Civil Engineers Para. 3). Over one quarter of the dams in America have already exceeded their lifespan for which they were designed to function well. They are hence in dire need for repairs and extensive maintenance to make sure they are safe for use (Cooper Para. 1).
In certain aspects, the American substandard infrastructure is worth expecting. Most of the physical infrastructures that Americans use today were constructed during the World War II and the humongous depression era (Gerdes 22).
For instance, most of the roads were constructed following the signing of the Federal-Aid Highway act of 1956. President Eisenhower signed the act on 29th of June 1956 and the interstate highways system was then constructed. That is about 55 years since. With no major repairs, this is sad news for drivers (Gerdes 23).
In 1982, an average American driving every day would spend 16 hours in a traffic jam. This figure rose to 47 hours by 2003 because of poor road and maintenance causing bottleneck situations. All these hours of traffic jam waste up to 2.3 billion gallons of oil estimated to cost over 64.1 million US dollars.
Clearly, there have not been new bridges, new roads, newer waterways and even substantial repairs of these infrastructures. All the leading facilities seen around were constructed by the previous generation, the Holland Tunnel, the Interstate highways system, the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam are all from previous generations (Gerdes 25). It is during those times that the US had a transport system envied by the whole world.
Today, the highways are particularly congested, with second-grade ports and primitive traffic control systems. The image of a superpower is deteriorating. America must be deeply concerned, and embarrassed (The Economist Para. 16). The current regime is like a rich child who failed to maintain a commodious mansion he inherited.
For over three decades now, American has been surviving on patched roads and bridges and believing it can take for granted the crucial facilities that saw American rise become powerful in the modern world.
The government has to come out clean with Americans. It has to stop reinvesting in the failing infrastructure by carrying out short-term miracle cure repairs to heighten the slow-moving economy, but conduct considerable restructuring of this infrastructure (The Economist Para. 19). Critics should stop labeling all the public investment as robbing the citizens of their hard-earned cash. Revamping the infrastructure requires collective responsibility and support.
This will see better project than the ‘shovel-ready’ project set by president Obama as an economic stimulus strategy. There needs to be a significant overhaul design supported by organizations like the American Society of engineers who will review the needs of the current infrastructure and design a national list of things to do ranging from the most risky and critical (American Society of Civil Engineers Para. 3)
America’s infrastructure needs a dramatic improvement. Government has failed to prioritize and fully finance the national infrastructure projects. Consequently, the current infrastructure is in not only defective shape but also not improving. The idea of conducting repairs and maintenance has prevented the country from progressing towards excellent infrastructure improvements.
American Society of Civil Engineers. The 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, 2011. Web. 17 Dec. 2011.
Cooper, Michael. U.S. Infrastructure Is In Dire Straits, Report Says. The New York Times January 27, 2009
Gerdes, Louise. How Safe Is America’s Infrastructure? Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.
The Economist. America’s Transport Infrastructure: Life in the Slow Lane. New York: Free Press, 2011. Print.