Out of Sight, Out of Mind Bridge-Wise

Published: August 2, 2007


A steam pipe explodes near Grant Central Terminal, a levee fails and floods New Orleans, a bridge collapses in Minneapolis.

These disasters are an indication that this country is not investing enough in keeping its vital infrastructure in good repair, engineering experts warn.
“Governments do not want to pay for maintenance because it is not sexy,” said John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer and an associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He said the bulk of the nation’s highway system was built in the 1950s and 1960s and is ageing. Referring to the collapse in Minneapolis, he said “This type of event could become more common.”

“We have a major infrastructure problem in this country,” said Maureen L. McAvey, an executive vice president with the Urban Land Institute, which recently published a report on global infrastructure issues. “The civil engineers have estimated that we have a $1.7 trillion shortfall in this country alone”

This has been a long time coming, for the very understandable human failing of not having to find all those unfunded funds “on my watch,” when the next guy is coming along in just a few years. Now we have a mayor in New York and a governor in Minnesota holding the bag. Tragic, but tragedy is the only thing that will bring inspections. What do you suppose the sewer and water structures under your streets look like?

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