Fixing crumbling American infrastructure

By Kevin Huang

 

When America doesn’t allocate more funding from increases in gas taxes to repair our aging infrastructure and expand new modes of transportation such as high-speed rail (HSR), America will struggle against other developed countries because the nation won’t have the environmental sustainability, economic growth and efficiency to compete. Updating energy, waste, transit and road infrastructure will allow more efficiency in society by reducing its current costs to society. Building a national HSR will allow Americans to have another mode of transit and rival other countries’ extensive rail networks. Doing both of these tasks will increase our poor rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which is rated D+ in 2013. Some say it is not worth the enormous amount of money to build HSR and to fund massive repairs. This thought shouldn’t undermine our obstacles to repair at a time when other countries have built or plan to build more infrastructure spending projects.

“Many facilities and systems are 50-100 years old, and engineers say they have been woefully neglected,” wrote Margaret Clemmitt in the 2007 edition of “CQ Researcher.” It is time to rebuild some varieties of infrastructure categories such as energy, waste, transit and road. With that in mind, each type of system requires unique attention to its current problems. Energy allows power to reach buildings, but it becomes a concern, when it isn’t able to bring power for our technologies and machines. Consider, many of the nation’s power grids have resulted in blackouts from weather-related accidents. If these grids aren’t modernized, more outages will occur as climate change worsens.

Conversely, leaking pipelines with oil from North Dakota and Alberta and explosions from oil trains such as accident in Lynchberg, Virginia, pose major threats to the environment and our ability to use a valuable source of energy. From 1990 to 2011, the New York Times noted “more than 110 million gallons of mostly crude and petroleum products have spilled from the nation’s mainland pipeline network.” With those wasted spills and explosions in mind, that energy could have resulted in our consumption, but instead have damaged aquifers, farmland  and rivers with major clean-up costs.

There should be regulations that reduce the amount of leaks and increase safety standards to keep oil trains and pipelines safe. Improper maintenance of waste infrastructure of sewers, hazardous waste and human waste disposal facilities will also cause pollution. Consequently, they create high environmental cleanup costs and pose negative externalities on American lives, which happened in West Virginia with chemical spills into rivers in January 2014, wrote Trip Gabriel for the New York Times.

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