Friday, September 16, 2011

When Unsexy Becomes The New Sexy: Americas Infrastructure

the great Seto bridgeImage by hwat via Flickr

From Denny:  There is a new book out to inform us just how dangerous our bridges are across America"Too Big To Fall" (America's Failing Infrastructure and The Way Forward) is from New York real estate lawyer, Barry Lepatner, also the author of "Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets."

Just a year ago most people turned the channel when the snooze story came on about the crumbling American infrastructure.  Not so since President Obama made it the centerpiece of his new jobs bill that has the GOP and Democrats lining up and pushing back to kill it just for the sheer size of it.

Here are a few statistics to get your blood boiling or get your Halloween scare on:

* $2.2 trillion is needed for nationwide repairs (source: American Society of Civil Engineers study)

* 150,000 bridges are at risk out of 600,000 - those at risk are because they are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient (source: FHA)

* 80,000 bridges are rated as poor 

* 26 percent of our 600,000 bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete

* 8,000 bridges of those rated poor are "fracture critical" which means if one piece breaks then the whole bridge will quickly collapse because they have had no attention for many years, even decades.

* New York City is the only place in the nation that has the safest bridges because $5 billion was poured into repairs by both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Lepatner proposes a few solutions to solve the issues of infrastructure needs:

* Keep the gas tax but get serious about using the revenues wisely

* End waste and abuse in the construction industry

Did you know that our gas tax that we complain about is actually 10 times less than what our Europeans cousins across The Pond have to pay?  In fact, our gas tax collects as much as $3 billion a month, placing it into the highway trust fund.  The problem is that our gas tax only collects up to 90 percent of what is needed for repairs.

And how does the construction industry figure into this infrastructure mess?  Turns out the construction industry is the most inefficient industry in America.  Why?  At least 49 percent of labor costs for construction projects do not go into the projects because of late deliveries and workers not showing up on time or at all: low worker productivity.

Lepatner proposes the construction industry is in need of dire reform.  What it also desperately needs is to update its technology.  The construction industry happens to be the lowest user of technology of all American industries.  It could go a long way to saving costs, safety and improving deliveries if they updated to newer and more technology.

Make your voice heard to your local political leaders and the national ones as well.  In this age of GOP cutbacks - and 30 years of them refusing to invest in national infrastructure - none of us know which bridge we may be travelling over is truly safe.  Definitely pause to wonder just how long this can continue.

Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC - He also writes for Huffington Post:  "Disgusted and disturbed by the rampant evidence of fraud, the theft and cover-up in American government, mega banks and mega-corporations, he is on a mission to create fairness for all Americans."

HBO Movie review based on this book: Economic Crisis Unfurls in Hushed Suspense