Report: Nation’s Infrastructure Crumbling
Crowded schools, traffic-choked roads and transit cutbacks are eroding the quality of American life, according to an analysis by civil engineers that gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D. A report by the American Society of Civil Engineers released Wednesday assessed the four-year trend in the condition of 12 categories of infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, drinking water systems, public parks, railroads and the power grid. The overall grade slipped from the D-plus given to the infrastructure in 2001 and 2003.
“Americans are spending more time stuck in traffic and less time at home with their families,” William Henry, the group’s president, said in a statement. The report said $1.6 trillion should be spent over the next five years to alleviate potential problems with the nation’s infrastructure. Transportation alone requires $94 billion in annual spending, the report said.
With a commute that averages 50 minutes each way, the results don’t surprise me. Still, this is a regional phenomenon–mostly the major urban centers on the two coasts. The roads are quite good, for example, in most of the Deep South and the traffic is quite bearable.
That said, I’m not sure that this problem is solvable by traditional means. Building more roads adds to traffic conjestion in the short term and seems not to alleviate it much in the medium term, since improved infrastructure encourages more sprawl.