America's Cities 'Dying Slowly' As Infrastructure Decays

Decades of metropolitan growth have outstripped most American cities' ability to provide adequate infrastructure, leaving them extremely vulnerable to disruption.
July 8, 2006, 9am PDT | Michael Dudley
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"Not only are the nation's cities choking with traffic but along the coasts, inter-city traffic is so bad that people are forced to drive overnight -- ironically, just as we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System.

But it is not just the roads that are inadequate to the job. For their water, the older cities in the East and Midwest depend on 100-year-old pipes and on clapped-out pumping stations. For their rail transportation, they depend on systems where speeds are restricted, often to below 40 miles an hour, because the track and the switching are inadequate. No wonder more trucks hit the crowded roads every year.

The state of the nation's infrastructure is appalling and getting worse. Roads, railroads, airports, water and sewage lines, and electric power lines are not keeping up with the demands made on them.

We are in an infrastructural crisis that belies our dominant world position. We are defended but we are vulnerable. We can send a cruise missile down a chimney in Baghdad, but we cannot get home at the end of the day."

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Published on Wednesday, July 5, 2006 in The Providence Journal
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