Thursday, August 2, 2007

I have not bailed on you, just been writing on the national level again...

Here is a copy of my last diary at Daily Kos. Enjoy.

What happens when your infrastructure crumbles?

As the Minnesota bridge collapse plays itself out over the coming days, will anyone look at the bigger picture?

A society will only go as far as their infrastructure will take them. If you can't provide basic services like water & sewer, roads, and electricity, there will eventually come a time when the government that fails the public will crumble like the neglected infrastructure that surrounds them. Is this to broad or vague a statement? I don't think so.

For the past few years, I have been paying attention to my local infrastructure. It has become very apparent to me that my local community can not handle the expansion of it's population very well, if at all. And after looking around the country, I don't think the rest of the country can either. I started to think about the US infrastructure when this article surfaced a few years back. I think I first heard about it on NPR, but none the less it got me thinking about what's going to happen when things like bridges collapse, steam pipes burst, or raw sewage overflows from inadequate waste water treatment plants? These kind of events are taking place with more frequency than you think. They don't make national headlines because no one cares if 440,000 gallons of raw sewage leaks into an obscure river somewhere in the east that you never heard of. NIMBY right? Anywho, all of us as a whole are not looking at the big picture. The only time you hear of failing infrastructure, its something big and dramatic that cost lives. Our nations roads and highways are no place for collateral damage from failing infrastructure.

Infrastructure is the arteries, the veins that support us. Without our infrastructure, what would we be? If you look back to some of the great empires, they all have one thing in common, great engineering of infrastructure. All roads lead to Rome. Remember that one? Look at the basic services the Romans had 2000 years ago: water, sewer, roads. When the Roman army was on the march, if they needed a bridge they built it. When they were at home in times of peace, the ruling party put the men in the army to work building roads. What did Emerson say about idle hands? Hell those Romans were great builders, some of that road system they created are still in use today. There is something to be said for that. How long do you think I95 will last? The aqueducts built by the Romans provided them with water from the mountains and were used for hundreds of years. In the end, when the infrastructure was gone, so was the empire.

So where does this leave us? According to this report card on our infrastructure, not in a very good state. As a nation, look at our grades.

Aviation: D+
Drinking Water: D-
Navigable Waterways: D-
Roads: D
Solid Waste: C
Bridges: C
Energy (National Power Grid): D
Public Parks: C
Schools: D
Transit: D+
Dams: D
Hazardous Waste: D
Rail: C-
Security: I
Waste Water: D-

Seriously, if you came home to your parents with this report card, they would be disappointed. Hell I would have been grounded. There is even an I for incomplete on there. WTF? This all leads to some questions that I don't think we are ready to face. Not a freaking B on the whole damn report card and this was 2 years ago. Look you can only put bandaids on things for so long before you come to that realization that you actually have to REPLACE this stuff. That steam pipe that burst in NY was over 80 years old. Something has to be done or there will be more bridges falling in the Mississippi, more pipes bursting because of old age, more raw sewage in our rivers and streams. Doesn't anyone think about how our population is growing but our basic services are not? Hey I may be way off the mark on this, but where I live over 60 wells have dried up this summer. That number was from last week and its closer to 100 now. Everyone is ready to blame someone, but I haven't heard any noise about how to fix the problem. The sad part is our dry wells are indicative of another problem in this country, failing infrastructure.


Luckyduck said...

& thats why you made the front page!

Anonymous said...

For those of us who have had to empty our savings accounts to purchase a new well,I think some kind of tax break is in order.Somerset and Wicomico Counties have profited from all of this overdevelopment
that is overwhelming our resources.I see that Somerset County is possibly offering grants or low interest loans to help those effected by their actions.I live in Wicomico County and I need help also.