August 2, 2007 § Leave a comment


The day after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, which follows a similar if less spectacular incident here in Quebec, the Professor wonders if “North America’s aging infrastructure is hitting a tipping point.”  In an excellent post, Frank, a structural engineer and sometimes architect, suggests that fatigue was likely a contributing factor, while these civil engineers warn that neglect of our transportation infrastructure is a serious and widespread problem.

It’s too soon to know precisely what caused the collapse, but it seems to me that this has something to do with it:

Finding money to maintain infrastructure has become increasingly difficult as public officials keep pledges not to raise taxes., said Robert Dunphy, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute. “We have an impending crisis with infrastructure, but it is easy to ignore until you have a catastrophe.”

Whatever the cause, I am increasingly certain that our obsession with tax cuts, deficits, and restraining “big” government is coming home to roost.   Infrastructure costs money–to build, to maintain, to inspect, and to replace–and no amount of political double-speak will change this fact.  Or, to put it somewhat more bluntly, you get what you pay for, and it’s well past time that we realized it.


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