Old tunnels and rusty bridges: America’s cracking infrastructure

Engineers say that when the infrastructure works, most people don’t even think about it. But they recognize it when they turn on a faucet and the water doesn’t run out, when they see the levees eroding or when they inch through the traffic, the driver’s awareness creeps up mile after mile. Has been

President Biden has announced An ambitious $ 2 trillion infrastructure plan Which will invest huge amount in improving the bridges, roads, public transport, railways, ports and airports of the country.

The plan faces opposition from Republicans and business groups, pointing to the heavy costs and high corporate taxes that Mr. Biden proposes to pay for it.

Nevertheless, leaders of both parties have long viewed infrastructure as a potential integration issue. Urban and rural communities, red and blue states, coasts and the middle of the country: all facing weak and faltering infrastructure.

“This is a dire need,” Greg Diororeto, a former president of American Civil Engineers, who publishes a comprehensive report card on the subject every four years.

The 2020 report gave the country a grade of C-minus, with little improvement after two decades of DS. Yet more needs to be done, with Mr Diretto saying: “Taking your people home is a terrible report card.”

Roadways and bridges have been in use for decades, even after the end of their projected lifetimes. Sewer and water systems are aged and decaying. And a changing climate threatens to worsen old weaknesses and expose new ones.

In the broader context of the plan issued by the Biden administration, specific proposals and figures for some of these infrastructure needs are given. For example, an additional $ 115 billion is proposed under the scheme for modernization of bridges, highways and roads that are “most in need of repair”. But other projects, such as the levy system, are not explicitly mentioned, and it is unclear how they might factor into the proposal.

We took a look at seven examples of immediate infrastructure weaknesses across the country, ranging from specific projects to broader problems.

Connecting New York City with New Jersey

Since the flooding of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, 111-year-old tunnels used by commuter trains and Amtrak have rapidly deteriorated.

Authorities in New York and New Jersey have harassed federal officials for years to help build new tunnels, arguing that the failure of one could have a devastating economic impact beyond the region. The Trump administration opposed his appeal. Have been riders Is prone to delays and cancellationsWith similar problems affecting the railways along the Northeast Corridor.

According to the report card of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a repair backlog of $ 45.2 billion, passenger railways across the country are struggling with a shortage of federal funds. The Biden administration says its plan will replace buses and rail cars and expand transit and rail into new communities; It is unclear how the Hudson River tunnels may be involved.

Cincinnati, crossing the Ohio River between Ohio and Covington, Ky.

President Barack Obama in 2011 described legislation based on this bridge that would help improve it. In 2016, President Donald J. Trump also assured to change the structure.

Still The bridge remains a source of frustration. Rusty and Creaky, it has been listed as “functionally obsolete” in the federal bridge list since the 1990s, and has a history of obstructions and accidents.

There is a $ 2.5 billion plan to fix the bridge and build a new one alongside it, but in Covington, some have expressed concern about the proposal. Mayor Cincinnati Enquirer told It was an “existential threat” citing the size of the proposed bridge (some traffic would still cross the old one, as well).

Mr. Biden’s plan vows to fix the 10 most economically important bridges in the country but does not specify which ones. “If a project is eligible, it will be,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a minority leader. Told local journalists At a press conference on Wednesday. “Hopefully, there is a solution somewhere in the bow of this multitrillion bill.”

Puerto Rico

While children around the world are attending school remotely due to the coronovirus epidemic last year, many students in Puerto Rico dropped out of class months ago. This was because a school in southern Puerto Rico crashed to pieces A severe earthquake on 7 January.

The collapse drew attention to the island’s more than 600 schools that shared a “miniature pillar” architectural design, which makes them vulnerable to setbacks. Teachers and parents were wary of reopening, and schools at that design risk remained closed. The children who visited him are still learning from afar.

In addition, about 60 schools were closed after inspection, showing structural deficiencies after the earthquake. About 25 had “persistent” problems that preceded the earthquake and its hanger, Puerto Rico’s education secretary told The New York Times last year.

Government officials recently acknowledged that the year the schools were closed for the epidemic, none of the hundreds of vulnerable schools were repaired.

Across the country

The major bridges carrying thousands of cars and eighteen-wheelers are not the only ones to show their age. So there are small bridges in rural areas, which have very little traffic but are no less important for a community’s ability to function. (In Mississippi alone, authorities have listed 355 bridges that have closed due to their age or disrepair.)

Under the President’s infrastructure plan, 10,000 of these bridges will be fixed.

71 percent of the country’s bridges are rural. They make up 79 percent of poorly or structurally unheard bridges, according to Trip, a transportation research nonprofit group.

Advocates in rural communities say problems with the bridges are indicative of a widespread lack of connectivity – by roadways and via broadband Internet. (The President’s plan also states that it will provide 35 percent of residents of rural communities without it access to reliable high-speed Internet.)

There is a $ 211 billion backlog in rural roads and bridges improvements. Some of these projects, such as widening railings and lanes, may make it safer to drive on rural, uninterrupted roads, much in proportion to the country’s traffic deaths.

Jackson, Miss.

Several weaknesses in the infrastructure were exposed when a powerful winter storm struck through Texas and into the Southeast in February. One of them was Jackson, Miss., The state capital, where there was a water system Week gone with residents notice boil in place.

The water crisis escalated tensions in Jackson, which gripped many communities where white residents have fled and the whereabouts of the tax evaporated. The city has old and broken pipes. They do not have the money to repair it. City officials estimated it could cost $ 2 billion to modernize Jackson’s water infrastructure.

The storm caused a power failure for millions of people throughout Texas, which has prompted lawmakers there to weigh an overhaul of the state’s power infrastructure. at least 111 people died The storm resulted, according to state officials, and it also caused extensive property damage and some residents faced heavy electricity bills.

Under Mr. Biden’s plan, lead pipes and service lines would be eliminated, and more transmission lines for electricity would be installed.

Michigan and many other states

When Michigan state officials investigated what led to the collapse of the Edenville and Sanford dams last year, thousands of people were evacuated and hundreds of homes and businesses were washed away, The conclusions were clear: The event of a historic flood was caught with adjudication and neglect over the years.

There are about 91,000 dams in the country, most of which are over 50 years old, and an extraordinary rainfall away from many possible disasters. As is the weather of dams Become more serious, Outdated construction standards and creating conditions that were considered at the time many dams were built.

Residential development has also once spread to rural areas which is downstream from weak infrastructure. According to Association of State Dam Safety OfficersThe largest number of dams in the country will cause death and extensive property damage due to the largest number of dams. More than 2,330 people in the group are considered deficient.

While the Biden plan mentions “dam safety”, it does not provide any details.

Across the country

The country has an area of ‚Äč‚Äčtens of thousands of miles, protecting millions of people and property worth billions of dollars.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers operates a small portion of the country’s levees, while the rest of the levy is maintained by a patchwork of districts, local governments, and private owners.

But little is cared about the maintenance of floodwaters, which appear to be the horrific 2019 floods in the Midwest. When there were record-breaking rains, the fields were filled, the farm barns, houses were flooded, causing billions of dollars in damage and damage.

Rain Unlikely to go soon, New weather patterns driven by weather changes. And some officials whose cities and cities were most affected by the 2019 floods are adamant: the bus refurbished levees are not going to work.

Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative Executive Director Colin Valencamp said, “Lewis is not going to do it. There is a consortium of 100 mayors bordering the Mississippi River. His group expanded a” systemic solution “at the White House last month Presented a plan for. This includes replacing the wetlands, connecting the backwaters to the main river, and opening up areas for natural flooding.

Mr. Velenkamp said that a plan that replaces infrastructure, rather than what it entails, would be ineffective and ultimately ineffective. He is not sure if his group’s proposals have been changed to the Biden plan. But he sees very few options.

“It’s a losing game until we include other, bigger solutions,” he said.

Campbell Robertson And Francis Robles Contributed to reporting.

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