Urban Fold

U.S. Infrastructure Crumbling

The Economist reviews the state of America's crumbling civil infrastructure. With water, transit, bridge, and road systems failing, experts call for increased investment and careful planning.

"For the past few years it has been hard to ignore America's crumbling infrastructure, from the devastating breach of New Orleans's levees after Hurricane Katrina to the collapse of a big bridge in Minneapolis last summer...Thanks to the soaring oil price, a surge in demand for buses and trains has exposed ageing transport systems in big cities and meagre investment in small ones."

"America has a grand tradition of national planning [which] stand in stark contrast to the federal government's strategy today. America invests a mere 2.4% of GDP in infrastructure, compared with 5% in Europe and 9% in China, and the distribution of that money is misguided."

"The Brookings Institution, a think-tank, recommends that America focus on metropolitan areas, or "metros", the top 100 of which account for 65% of population and 75% of economic output...This means, among other things, an enhanced federal role in projects that cross state borders, including not only the interstates but intermodal freight and high-speed rail...Metros would be given more incentives to reduce congestion and sprawl.

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, has echoed many of these ideas. John McCain so far... has no strategy. Mr Obama's plans include creating an infrastructure bank to help finance transport projects, supporting high-speed rail and investing in subways and buses."

Full Story: The cracks are showing

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