America’s neglected infrastructure, ready to fall apart

Busiest train bridge in Western Hemisphere = 104 years old, carries up to 500 trains/day!

There are a lot of people in the United States right now who think the country is falling apart, and at least in one respect they’re correct. Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date and the vast majority of our seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete. All the result of decades of neglect. None of this is really in dispute. Business leaders, labor unions, governors, mayors, congressmen and presidents have complained about a lack of funding for years, but aside from a one time cash infusion from the stimulus program, nothing much has changed. There is still no consensus on how to solve the problem or where to get the massive amounts of money needed to fix it, just another example of political paralysis in Washington.

Tens of millions of American cross over bridges every day without giving it much thought, unless they hit a pothole. But the infrastructure problem goes much deeper than pavement. It goes to crumbling concrete and corroded steel and the fact that nearly 70,000 bridges in America — one out of every nine — is now considered to be structurally deficient…

Pennsylvania is one of the worst states in country when it comes to the condition of its infrastructure, and Philadelphia isn’t any better off than Pittsburgh. Nine million people a day travel over 900 bridges classified as structurally deficient, some of them on a heavily traveled section of I-95…

Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania…says it’s a nation’s number one highway. Twenty-two miles of it goes through the city of Philadelphia. There are 15 structurally deficient bridges in that 22-mile stretch. And to fix them would cost seven billion dollars — to fix all the roads and the structurally deficient bridges in that 22-mile stretch…

It’s less a case of wanting to get something done, than coming up with the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to do it. There is no shortage of ideas from Democrats or Republicans who’ve suggested everything from raising the gas tax to funding infrastructure through corporate tax reform. But there is no consensus and not much political support for any of the alternatives as Andy Herrmann, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, told us last summer…

He said, you’re sitting there at these committee meetings; they seem to agree with you. Yes, we have to make investments in infrastructure. Yes, we have to do these things. But then they come around and say, “Well, where are we going to get the money?” And you sort of sit to yourself and say to yourself, “Well, we elected you to figure that out.”

RTFA for enough examples of crumbling infrastructure to scare a sensible human being into action. Now, we just need to figure out how to get our elected officials to exhibit as much sense. Sitting around worrying about how to raise the funds for repairs without offending any of their big money contributors ain’t going to get it done.

Thanks, Mike

Civil engineers deliver a report card on our infrastructure: D

Daylife/AP Photo by Jim Mone

America’s civil engineers think the nation’s aging and rusty infrastructure is just not making the grade.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has issued an infrastructure report card giving a bleak cumulative ranking of D.

“We’ve been talking about this for many many years,” Patrick Natale, the group’s executive director, told CNN. “We really haven’t had the leadership or will to take action on it. The bottom line is that a failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy.”

The ranking — which grades the condition of 15 infrastructure entities such as roads, bridges and dams — is the same as the the last time such a report was issued, in 2005. In 2001, the grade was D+, slightly better but still poor.

The group estimates that the government and the private sector need to invest $2.2 trillion over five years, roughly three times the size of President Obama’s stimulus package.

Natale says there’s been a mentality in the United States of short-term fixes and hoping that they work — “patch and pray,” as he puts it.

“By underinvesting, the price tag escalates,” Natale said.

Wander through the categories. I don’t see anything there I disagree with. It’s all pretty poor. The grades are deserved.

Colorado bill on slow drivers proceeds through legislature – slowly

Colorado legislators gave initial approval to a bill requiring slowpoke drivers to pull over and let faster vehicles pass.

The House gave its preliminary approval to the measure, which requires slow-moving vehicles to pull over to the side of the road whenever five or more cars are lined up behind them.

The Denver Post said the proposal has been controversial in rural areas where representatives say it could be dangerous to pull tractors hauling chemical tanks or trucks loaded with hay off the road.

The bill has an amendment attached that would exempt farm vehicles from the law.

Of course, the bill is a laugher. You’d have to get a few county sheriffs willing to waste the time pulling over and ticketing someone who’s violating the ordnance.

It’s like the law we have here in New Mexico requiring [1] backhoes to be transported from job-site to job-site on flatbed trailers. Har! [2] If they’re licensed and can travel at speed limit speeds, light up flashers and stay to the right – it’s OK for them to be on public roads.

Don’t hold your breath!

America’s Deadliest Roads

Each triangle marks someone killed in a road accident

Would you be surprised to learn that nine people died last year on the highway you take to work everyday? Or would you be shocked to see that six teenagers died within five miles of your home in fatal car accidents? With the help of the interactive maps developed by University of Minnesota researchers, you can learn those facts and more by simply typing in your address.

Researchers in the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety (CERS) have mapped out every fatality in the nation with details on each death, so now you can see the “dead man’s curve” on your commute or the “devil’s triangle” in your backyard. [macabre or what?]

“When drivers type in their most common routes, they’re shocked how much blood is being shed on it,” said Tom Horan, research director for CERS. “When it’s the route you or your loved ones use, the need to buckle up, slow down and avoid distractions and drinking suddenly becomes much more personal and urgent.”

Enter your address at and you will see a map or satellite image of all of the road fatalities that have occurred in the area. Plus, users have the ability to narrow down their search to see the age of the driver, whether speeding or drinking was a factor, and if the driver was wearing a seatbelt.

This is a gas! It’s also getting enough media coverage that their servers are a bit overloaded.