It’s no secret that US infrastructure is in decay. Roads, bridges, and leaking dams are just some of the problems.

Popular Mechanics has written a special report on Rebuilding America : How to Fix U.S. Infrastructure. Inquiring minds will want to take a look.

Americans need to face the sobering reality that the country’s infrastructure is in trouble. Most of it was built in the 20th century, during the greatest age of construction the world has seen. The continent was wired for electricity and phone service, and colossal projects, including the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge and the interstate highway system, were completed—along with thousands of smaller bridges, water tunnels and more. We are living off an inheritance of steel-and-concrete wonders, grander than anything built by Rome, constructed by everyday giants bearing trowels, welding torches and rivet guns.

To fix our infrastructure, from dilapidated levees to congested roadways and ports, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has estimated that the country needs to spend $1.6 trillion over five years. Only $1 trillion of that, the organization says, has been allocated or promised. Accepting those numbers, we need an additional $600 billion to reverse the slide of infrastructure, a figure that seems as difficult to produce as it is to comprehend.

Or is it? Spread over five years, ASCE is calling for $120 billion per year. The economic stimulus package signed into law in February is sending $168 billion out to individuals to spend, in a best-case scenario, on new TVs and restaurant meals. That money could have bought a lot of concrete. While more funds are needed, how they’re spent is equally important. New information technology, fresh engineering and advanced materials can help us not just restore, but improve our infrastructure in the coming century. Planned and managed properly, next-gen projects can be smarter and more resilient than what came before. Engineers and construction workers know how to get the job done. But first, we must gather the national will.

Infrastructure Race Against Time

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Expensive Problems

Instead of invading Iraq, a country that did not attack us and was certainly no threat against the US in any way shape or form, we could have rebuilt much of our infrastructure for the same price. That is water under the bridge now and our infrastructure still needs rebuilding.

More recently, the US wasted $150 billion in an economic stimulus plan that provided little more than another one-time shopping spree for everyone. So expensive problems still loom and $600 billion of that estimated expense has yet to even be allocated.

No doubt, inflationistas will be jumping all over this report. I will address those concerns on Monday. For now, inquiring minds will want to take a look at the report.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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