America's Third World Infrastructure

Alex Marshall investigates the reasons why America's infrastructure resembles a third world country's, and decides that we have our arcane budgeting processes to blame.
February 3, 2012, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In search of some of the less recognized causes of our infrastructure woes, Marshall looks at governing official's predilections for raiding maintenance money to fund other budget shortfalls and the peculiar ways in which financing and political mechanisms make it easier to fund new projects rather than maintaining those already built.

"A transit manager at a major American city told me a revealing story during a tour: 'See those lights,' said the official, pointing to some bulbs within some rusting metal frames hanging over the platform. 'It would only cost about $1,000 a year to maintain those well. We can't get that. So instead, we will wait until they rust out and fail completely. Then we will replace them, at a cost of perhaps $100,000.' This is poor governance and poor economics, to say the least."

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Published on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 in Governing
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