Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Just in case you were looking for another issue crying to be appropriately addressed by Congress, consider our wretched infrastructure. On your behalf,  AAIA is an active member of the American Highway Users Alliance, and after attending a meeting or reviewing their latest news clips, I tend to suffer sleepless nights or have nightmares about tumbling bridges, collapsing highways, crashing jets and Amtrak closing.

In other words, federal investments in our infrastructure are as tiny as the desires of the House of Representatives to welcome ObamaCare with open, loving arms.

Here’s an example: The Highway Users noted an Associated Press article that reported “of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed 65,605 were classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 as “fracture critical.” Of those, 7,795 were both – a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.

Hmmmmmm. I drive over bridges – especially over the Potomac. What are the chances that every one of those Virginia/Maryland/D.C. bridges are perfect and safe? Not very high.

Or consider the following: Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers assesses the nation’s infrastructure and assigns a letter grade to each sector (aviation, bridges, ports, rail, roads, etc.). The United States has NEVER scored better than a D+ overall. Really. $12.8 billion is spent annually on U.S. bridges but it would take $20.5 billion in spending to bring U.S. bridges into a state of good repair. The average U.S. bridge is 42 years old. Believe me, way back when I was 42, I certainly needed a “full” investment.

Now let’s consider the roads that every vehicle owner depends upon to get them around 11,000+ miles each year. Currently, about $91 billion is spent on U.S. highways annually, while estimates are that $101 billion is needed in capital investment to maintain the condition of U.S. highways. That’s “maintain,” not “improve.”

So be afraid. Be very afraid. With our miserable infrastructure, the U.S. ranks 14th worldwide. No sense taking great care of the nation’s car parc, if vehicle owners can’t get anywhere. Last year’s transportation bill expires in about a year. Nobody in this town, or anywhere else in the country, has the slightest idea how Congress will pay for the next one.

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One Response to Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

  1. Michael Mitchell says:

    I’m already afraid. One example. Back in 1993 the Amtrak SEPTA bridge over the Schuykill Freeway in Philadelphia was deterioating so badly that wire mesh was spread under the bridge to prevent chunks of stone from falling on vehicles traveling underneath. The idea was to channel the stones off to the roadside. I don’t believe it’s any better today.

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