America's Infrastructure

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Concerns About America's Infrastructure

Many people have raised concerns about America's infrastructure. Many people believe that the nation faces numerous problems in this field. Any American citizen has found that the world seems to be falling apart. Airports are outdated and in need of upgrades, posing a huge threat to the government. Roads have been destroyed and must be repaired. The accessible, well-maintained roads are countable and congested, resulting in a lot of traffic (Darwin et al. 334). Bridges are collapsing, causing many injuries and posing many threats to American society. Seaports are no different since water sources and transportation are at risk of being redundant. The diminishing maintenance of infrastructures is a result of neglect for many years. None of the challenges is in dispute. Labor unions, governors, the members of Congress, presidents, and governors have based their complaints on the lack of funding. However, apart from the one-time cash infusion received from the stimulus program, there has been no change. Regardless of the urge to the improvement of infrastructure, there is still no consensus indicating how the problem will be solved.

Need for Reforming American Infrastructure

American infrastructure needs to be reformed based on the present poor conditions far from required standards (335). The country should have taken seriously this issue into account because the infrastructure is a major problem towards better economic development. The economy improvement can be imperative to citizens; the government ought to increase budget funds allocation and projects aimed at restoring the sector of infrastructure (Darwin et al. 403). The United States government should take a swift action to improvement because many activities designed to develop the country are challenged by the infrastructure sector. For example, poor roads lead to the low transportation of export and import goods which are a key factor towards the state's economy. Regardless of the tight budget fixture, it is paramount that the government should do something about the challenges facing infrastructure. Many Americans have been negatively affected by the rising poor state of infrastructure. Some businesses have come to a standstill due to gas leaks and fire outbreaks (405). In case the problem is not solved, America will be exposed to more road accidents, widespread blackouts, and more fire outbreaks due to gas explosions.

Lack of Funding and Neglect of Infrastructure

The government requires a massive amount of money to fix the infrastructure problem. It is not clear where this huge amount of money can be derived from to assist in resolving the present situation. The infrastructure problem has persisted for many years without being solved. The public's focus on this support issue has decreased but assuming the question does not create a solution either making it go away(421). Every American citizen is on the verge of accepting and facing the astonishing reality of our nation's state. The intensity of the problem faced by the crumbling infrastructure is not always foremost and appropriately noticed. They are not foremost because infrastructure, sewer systems, and power grids are mostly hidden from the tanked eye and many people are not keen on monitoring their environment. The average individual gives little reasoning to the problems; they only give it a thought when they do not work. In this age of medical advances and modern technology, it seems incredible that the majority infrastructure of America, the world's superpower and the most powerful nation, is diminishing.

Decline of Public Infrastructure Spending

In the past century America saw significant spending and booms in infrastructure. The first great boom was during the Great Depression while the second increase followed around the 1950s and 1960s with the construction of most highway systems. Since then, a share of GDP on public infrastructure spending has declined. The decline can be estimated to about half the European level (Hines & Sarosh 5249). America is one the nations that highly depend on cars yet the government spends about as large a share of Growth Domestic Product on roads as Sweden. The American government scrimps on sewage pipes and airports to the cutter for healthcare and pensions.

The Need for Investment in Infrastructure

Giving a sharp look at the nation's economy, one can notice that the United States is struggling in a time when major utilities will considerably drop out. With time, roadways will be more deplorable and become more impassable due to the lack of continuous management and disrepair (5253). Dams will collapse, therefore, most of the metropolitan areas will be crippled due to blackouts. Millions believe the luxury and comfort that is afforded to nearly every American citizen will never end. However, without swift intervention, the United States of America will face ruinous collapse.

America's Infrastructure Report Card

America scores low in infrastructure making a challenge to support its thriving economy. American Society of Civil Engineers reviewed several areas of the country's infrastructure and issued the report card in 2003 giving the state grade D+ cumulative ranking. These aggregate rankings in America's infrastructure were based on the analysis of its individual categories of foundations (5259). The areas that were placed in consideration included dams, drinking water, hazardous waste, levees, inland waterways, rail, roads, schools, and transit. All the above categories had a cumulative score below a C+. In 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers grade was D. Despite a slight improvement achieved by the nation in the cumulative ranking, the conditions seem to be relatively same after seven years.

The Cost of Infrastructure Improvement

America's infrastructure seemingly remains weak through the years since the situation is not yet dire. The ASCE estimates that the nation needs $3.6 trillion to address the infrastructural concerns (Reynolds, Kristina & Charles 117). The amount of money is enormous, especially when considering that the United States is challenged by ever-increasing debt. The government usually spends a lot on healthcare, education, and on the military. The significant expenses leave a little room in the state's budget to be in a position to allocate trillions of dollars nationwide on infrastructure. However, the nation's infrastructure influences the success of its citizens. In order to maintain a better and conducive environment, utilities and services need continuous maintenance to allow the American citizens live the life that they desire. Without proper maintenance on services and utilities, nearly everything in the United States of America immediately comes to a halt.

Challenges in Transportation Infrastructure

Looking into the infrastructure, about forty-two percent of major urban roads and highways in America are congested. These highly cost the nation economy time and fuel wastage. While the conditions have shown improvement lately and state, local, and federal investments have been increased annually, the level of investment remains insufficient. The state is still projected to fall in performance and conditions in the long term (120). The federal government, currently, estimates that an investment of up to $170 billion is required on an annual basis to achieve a significant improvement in performance and condition. Bridges face a major challenge in the sector of infrastructure. Several trips are taken on a daily basis across these deficient bridges. In total, a rating of one in nine bridges is deemed to be structurally deficient. An average of 607,380 bridges in the country is currently over 42 years old.

Challenges in Bridge and Water Infrastructure

The federal, local, and state governments experience a various challenge in financial allocation to improve bridge infrastructure. In addressing the issue of bridges, the government needs to invest an extra $9 billion to meet the expected $75 billion required to construct better bridges nationwide. In addition, the water infrastructure is facing a lot of challenges and approaching the end of its economic and useful life. Water breaks have reportedly increased throughout the year summing up to 240,000 main water breaks (Chandra & Eric 456). If every water pipe was to be replaced, the cost over the next decade could escalate to more than one trillion U.S dollars. In the United States of America, water quality remains universally high. The nation's water quality is not affected by pipes and mains estimated to have been installed 100 years ago. Even with pipes not replaced after a very long time, disease outbreaks attributed to drinking water are very rare.

Challenges in Public Transit Infrastructure

The public transit infrastructure has a significant role in America's economy. Public transportation connects millions of people with medicinal facilities, jobs, recreation, shopping, and school. The public transportation stands to be very critical to the one-third of Americans who do not own vehicles or those who do not drive cars. Unlike many of the United States infrastructure systems, the transit transportation system is not comprehensive. It is noted that about 45 percent of American households do not have direct access to transit, and the majority of them do not have adequate service levels (470). The Americans who do not have private cars have increased their ridership by 9.2 percent in the past decade and this trend is expected to continue further. Although the country has increased its investments in transit, deteriorating and inadequate transit systems still cost high amounts of money in the American economy. Estimates show that the U.S economy allocated up to $90 billion in 2010 to maintain the transit system. The economic downturns have affected the transportation sector forcing fare increases and service cuts.

The Challenge of Funding Infrastructure Improvement

America requires massive capital investments to achieve an improvement in its infrastructure. Repairing these foundations requires the government to increase the budget in the following ways: wastewater requires allocation of up to $298 billion, schools: $270 billion, levees: $100 billion, and dams: $21 billion. One of the most overburdened and outdated parts of American infrastructure is the electrical grid which most citizens perhaps take for granted. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the power grid is imperative and is in an urgent need for modernization. The United States electrical grid consists of a system of transmission facilities, interconnected power generation, and distribution services and some of them date back to the 1890s.

Aging Power Grid and Need for Modernization

Nowadays, America has a complex and aging patchwork systems of power lines, and power generation plants that must work cohesively to power our businesses and homes. The state has thousands of power systems and generating plants spread across the country. There are almost over 400,000 miles covered with electrical transmission lines (Algarni, David & Gul 728). Additionally, with the increase or renewable electrical generation, the need to add more transmission lines to cover more homes has been even greater. There are the times when the country experienced widespread blackouts in the past. In most cases, blackouts are due to the old equipment that has increased the number of intermittent disruptions on power grids which are often vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Moreover, power outages had significantly risen from 75 in the year 2007 to 308 in 2011. Reliability has also come up due to retiring old infrastructure and replacing them with new energy sources. The International Business Times estimates that blackouts cost the United States business up to 150 billion dollars annually. The high cost is due to the average number of power outages that significantly increase each year.

The Cost of Infrastructure Improvement and the Budget Challenge

America must gather a lot of capital of around $3.6 trillion over the next four years to achieve the goal of fixing its deteriorating infrastructure. It is quite unfortunate that the nation does not have this huge sum of money. For the once leading economic state, this is a crippling and tragic problem. The American budget cannot meet the required proposal in the issue of infrastructure which affects the citizens directly. Without a widespread and drastic invention to solve the infrastructure problem, each American citizen is destined to a serious change of life. People will be exposed to live with spotty electricity, impassable roads with potholes everywhere, less Internet access, high food prices, gas leaks, and fire outbreaks due to the explosions. Citizens will also be required to boil drinking water (Algarni, David & Gul 732). These problems will significantly affect the life if an immediate solution has not been put in place to renovate the infrastructure. To an average citizen, these issues seem unthinkable but the tragedies are evident in every daily news program. Apart from the failing roadways and bridges, old levee and electrical grid systems, and gas leak explosions are the news reported countless times. These are the disasters that are increasing daily and every kind of cases reported. It is high time for every American citizen to be aware of what is coming in the near future.

The Importance of Infrastructure Improvement

America's infrastructure requires a lot of improvement. Many countries can further develop because of good support. With improved support, our nation will rise to higher economic levels. Better support helps to develop businesses; global trade creates new opportunities for inferior communities, connects workers to work stations, and protects America from natural disasters (735). However, these vital systems are their worst states of disrepair. Aging bridges and congested roads, including deteriorating public and private buildings are some of the examples. Behind the scenes, America's procurement system that directs the way public sector finances, plans, manages, builds, and operates these infrastructure systems are in greater disrepair than the assets themselves.

The Challenges of Outdated Procurement Systems

Today's leaders are not only trying to solve the issue of American roads but also the procurement systems designed for slow paced and a less connected world (Duffy, Kevin & Randall 329). The progress to solving infrastructure systems are hindered by outdated laws, non-existent standardization, unsupportive regulatory frameworks, and poor coordination. Private sector stakeholders and government, as well as the citizens who eventually benefit from these projects, are affected by these old processes. The processes affect everyone through delayed projects, time wastage, and sub-optimal risk allocation.

The Need for Reform and Better Practices

Despite the challenges of reforming the United States infrastructure, there is an emerging body of better practices from the authorities in local, federal, and even state government. Policymakers and private-sector leaders have an interest in the initiatives placed to solve the issues of the infrastructure. However, they find new practices and replicable models to be incredibly high. Reforming America's infrastructure requires visionary leadership. The participants came up with dozens of scientific ideas that can be used to address challenges facing America's infrastructure. The members established a strategic vision that would help solve the infrastructure system. The concept is considered a broad term where the group identified specific ideas that would prioritize the highest impact projects. These would maintain the flexibility in solving the continually evolving issues of the infrastructural development.

The Importance of Solving Infrastructure Problems

In conclusion, America is a world leader in design and engineering. However, there is still a continuous struggle to maintain our infrastructures. The politicians pick projects quickly touted to benefit them in their elections, projects which they do not fulfill once in office. The country should take critical steps to meet infrastructural projects like the initiative of Building New Chicago (343). This consensus-driven planning gives the leaders a process and framework to attain environmental, equity, and economic needs delivered by infrastructure. Finally, the American support remains an immense problem. Solving these emerging issues will require a lot of sacrifices. Citizens' involvement to resolve these issues can be of the great essence. Every citizen should take the initiative of trying to come up with a solution towards developing our nation's infrastructure.

Works Cited

Algarni, Ayed Muhammad, David Arditi, and Gul Polat. "Build-operate-transfer in infrastructure projects in the United States." Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 133.10 (2007): 728-735.

Chandra, Amitabh, and Eric Thompson. "Does public infrastructure affect economic activity Evidence from the rural interstate highway system." Regional Science and Urban Economics 30.4 (2000): 457-490.

Dahlgren, Darwin, et al. "Centralized facility and intelligent on-board vehicle platform for collecting, analyzing and distributing information relating to transportation infrastructure and conditions." U.S. Patent No. 7,421,334. 2 Sep. 2008.

Duffy-Deno, Kevin T., and Randall W. Eberts. "Public infrastructure and regional economic development: a simultaneous equations approach." Journal of urban economics 30.3 (1991): 329-343.

Hines, Paul, Jay Apt, and Sarosh Talukdar. "Large Blackouts in North America: Historical Trends and Policy Implications." Energy Policy, vol. 37, no. 12, 2009, pp. 5249-5259.

Reynolds, Kelly A., Kristina D. Mena, and Charles P. Gerba. "Risk of waterborne illness via drinking water in the United States." Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology. Springer New York, 2008. 117-158.

December 15, 2022

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