Popular Mechanics offers a slide show of the nation's top 10 most pressing infrastructure problems needing urgent attention.
No one can predict what bridge, levee or water main will fail next. But some problems are widely known, and work is long overdue. As PM's new special report makes blatantly clear, we need to begin rebuilding the nation's infrastructure somewhere. Here are 10 great places to start.
Chicago: Circle Interchange
One parkway and three expressways meet here, and close to 300,000 vehicles a day are forced to reduce speed while navigating a network of tightly curved ramps. The result: an estimated 25 million hours in delays per year. A $975 million expansion project might relieve traffic on one of the expressways, but no plans have been announced to address the congested interchange itself.
New York: Brooklyn Bridge
It's the oldest suspension bridge still being used in the United States, and it is considered "structurally deficient" under the federal rating system. Officials don't fear a collapse of the Brooklyn Bridge–the main span appears to be sound–but some of the approaches to the structure have been marred by rusting steel and deteriorating road decks for many years. Repairs aren't due to start until 2010. If the country wants to signal that it's serious about infrastructure, it has to take care of its national icons.
New Orleans: Canal Lock
The 87-year-old lock is undersized, and vessels can wait 36 hours to navigate it. Congress first authorized new locks in 1956. The Army Corps of Engineers finally began the work in 2002 but was held up when a judge ruled it had failed to prepare the proper environmental impact study. Construction is expected to take 12 years and cost nearly $800 million–but 50 years after work could have begun, no completion date has been set.