North America’s Failing Infrastructure Research Paper

Abstract

The American Society of Civil Engineers issued survey reports on the nation’s infrastructure. These reports along with several other studies conducted by different agencies describe the purposed use of the graded infrastructures along with their current usage. The studies also grade the nation’s infrastructure on its current condition and usefulness. More than 15 infrastructure entities are graded but for the purpose of this research paper, only seven will be discussed.  This research paper will focus on the studies that have been conducted on the nation’s roads and highway system, bridges, railways, dams, seaports, subways, and the electric grid.  It has been reported that many of the infrastructure systems have received a failing grade and is in need of major repair. These findings suggest that the federal government along with state ran government as well as the private sector need to invest more money into the repair of America’s failing infrastructure.

Table of contents

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4

Background Research on the Topic…………………………………………………………………………. 5

Keeping Track of the Condition…………………………………………………………………… 5

How Infrastructure is Assessed…………………………………………………………………….. 6

The Condition of Roads and Highways…………………………………………………………. 7

The Condition of Bridges……………………………………………………………………………. 8

The Condition of Railways………………………………………………………………………….. 9

The Condition of Seaports…………………………………………………………………………… 10

The Condition of Dams………………………………………………………………………………. 11

The Condition of Subways………………………………………………………………………….. 12

The Condition of Electric Grid…………………………………………………………………….. 13

The Importance of Regular Checks………………………………………………………………. 14

Future Implications…………………………………………………………………………………….. 15

Discussion……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 16

Major Overhaul………………………………………………………………………………………….. 16

The Importance of Priorities………………………………………………………………………… 17

Maintaining versus Building New………………………………………………………………… 18

The Issue of Effectiveness…………………………………………………………………………… 19

Discussion of New Solution…………………………………………………………………………………… 20

Involvement of Federal Government…………………………………………………………….. 20

Controlling State Projects……………………………………………………………………………. 21

Preventive Maintenance………………………………………………………………………………. 21

The Involvement of the Private Business………………………………………………………. 21

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 22

References…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24

Many researchers along with America’s civil engineers believe that the nation’s aging infrastructure is in dire need of a makeover. The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a report of the nation’s infrastructure condition and the report showed that the nation received a grade of “D”. Many researchers believe the nation has not had the leadership or will to take action. The Government is too busy cutting cost to incentives that the nation needs to thrive. A failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy. With the rise of globalization and trade, America has seen more traffic on its roadways. There are more accidents being reported on a daily basis. The current road system in America was not built to handle the amount of traffic that is traveling on it daily. All this shows that the current level of infrastructure is not able to keep up with the requirements of the present day. Given the fact that this aspect of social life is particularly important for the well-being of the citizens, one might suggest that there is an ongoing crisis in the infrastructure. It is true that there are still roads that people are able to use and bridge that they can cross; however, not only their condition can be alarming, but also the possibilities of using them in the future are not particularly bright. With this in mind many turn to the government, urging it to take care of the infrastructure through directing the tax money properly. Nevertheless, while the taxes are still raised, there has not been any particular progress in terms of improvement of roads, bridges or any other similar objects. This leads to a logical conclusion: it is possible that it is not the lack of money that prevents the government from repairing the infrastructure, but the lack of proper management.

There are several reasons why the problem in question is important. First of all, as it has already been mentioned, infrastructure is a part of social life that affects everyone: people use the road, bridged, electricity, water and so on. That is why it is obvious that the condition of this object has a direct influence on the quality of life of the people in general. Another point that should be mentioned with this regard is that failing infrastructure makes the country vulnerable to various attacks. Indeed, now that many objects are in bad condition, it may take fewer efforts of terrorists to destroy them, causing a considerable amount of damage. In spite of the fact that strategic infrastructure objects are being guarded, there are many, for example, bridges, that can become the target. So, one might speculate that keeping them in good shape will contribute to the public safety. Finally, when it comes to the importance of the infrastructure, one should also keep in mind that it can be seen as a reflection of the general quality of living, to a certain extent. Given the fact that the United States economy is among the biggest in the world and the military boasts the title one of the strongest, it is rather surprising that a country that is able to exercise such a significant influence on the rest of the world is not able to take care of its own infrastructure. So, the research questions that this paper will try to answer can be formulated in the following manner: What are the ways in which the current failing level of infrastructure quality can be improved? Given all this, this paper will argue that American taxpayers and small business owners are paying higher taxes to cover the repair of the national infrastructure while the government continues to cut cost and funding for major repair jobs; under these conditions, the most logical solution would be to focus on maintaining the old object other than building new one’s and introduce a new scheme of distribution of money with emphasis on preventing maintenance.

Background Research on the Topic

Keeping Track of the Condition

To begin with, it is worth pointing out that there are organizations that are particularly interested in the assessment of the current condition of the infrastructure. In addition to that, they conduct routine evaluations in order to make sure that all problematic areas are highlights. Thus, the American Society of Civil Engineers is responsible for assessing some of the most important aspects of the infrastructure. The biggest advantage that this evaluation provides lies in the fact that it allows the researchers to identify the trends and make sure that the government is ready to deal with the possible problems. Indeed, one should not think that an infrastructure object is something that once built should not be taken care of. Quite the opposite: it is essential to perform maintenance since otherwise the period of time in the course of which the object will be useful to the public will be much shorter (Alvarez 2016). Furthermore, one should also note that keeping track of the current condition of the infrastructure objects also shapes the policies of the government. Thus, instead of inspecting every single one of them, it may focus on those the condition of which has been failing for years. As a result, those objects in the worst state will be taken care of immediately. It is also possible that the government will make sure that the condition of the objects does not reach the critical level.

How Infrastructure is Assessed

There are several key aspects that are emphasized in each assessment. First and most of all, the age of an infrastructure object is taken into consideration. One should keep in mind that no single building can be preserved indefinitely. Given the fact that infrastructure objects are used on a daily basis, it is clear that they are built with a particular period of time in mind (Austin 2014). All this logically leads to the understanding that when a certain time comes, the needs to renovate or even build new infrastructure objects becomes essential. If one takes a close look at the period when the majority of such objects were built in the United States, one will be able to see that they were built in the 1950s and the 1960s. Since the period of time that they were designed to serve for was approximately half a century, it is obvious that now the country faces a major crisis since almost all objects have reached the critical level.

The next key element that should be mentioned with this regarding is functionality. One would make no mistake that in the middle of the previous century the patterns of social life were significantly different: the Americans own and drive more cars today than ever before, the power grids supply more electricity, the bridges are used to many trucks on a daily basis and so on. Therefore, it is clear that the patterns of usage that the original civil engineers had in mind are not longer up to date. With this in mind, it becomes obvious that the objects of infrastructure face yet another problem:  they are not able to live up to the expectations of the people. Therefore, there is not only the objective need to take care of them but also a subjective one.

The Condition of Roads and Highways

When it comes to infrastructure, one of the first kind of objects that people tend to think of includes roads and highways. According to a recent report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, these objects received a D. It is clear that when it comes to renovation, roads and highways are the objects that are in desperate needs of maintenance (Elmer & Leigland 2014).  One of the major problems that are associated with this endeavor focuses on money: it has been estimated that the government will have to be spending several billion every single year for the next decade to improve the condition of the roads. It is clear that if implemented, this will become a serious article of expenditure for the government. Moreover, this will redirect the funds from other areas like healthcare and military. It is possible that many would prefer to keep the current patterns of government spending, arguing that the quality of the roads is not that bad after all.

Nevertheless, if one approaches this topic from a different perspective, one will be able to see that the situation is much worse than people can imagine. Thus, due to the fact that many roads were not built to handle the current flow of traffic, it is clear that the Americans have to spend a considerable amount of time being trapped in jams rather than working or taking a time off. In other words, though poor quality of roads and highways does not affect the public well-being directly, it surely plays an important role in the development of the overall quality of life. Furthermore, one should also keep in mind that this is true both for roads in cities and towns as well as highways. It seems that if not taken care of, the system of roads and highways will turn into an obstacle for the development rather than a tool to facilitate it.

The Condition of Bridges

Contrary to roads, the bridges were found to be in a better shape: they received a “C” from the American Society of Civil Engineers. In spite of the fact that some might see this as a positive sign, it is essential to keep in mind that “C” stands for a satisfactory condition and not “good” or “excellent”. That is why the best way to process this information is to state that bridges are not in as bad condition as roads and highways. Nevertheless, if one takes a close look at the time when they were built, one will be able to notice that the majority of them were constructed in the 1950s and the 1960s. Furthermore, the period of them that they are expected to serve is approximately half a century. That is why it is clear that while the contemporary report does not see any serious problem, a report that will be conducted a decade after will identify a crisis is nothing is changed.

There are several problems that should be addressed. First of all, the evidence shows that 25% of all bridges are in need of immediate repair (Fry 2010). It is possible that they will perform the functions that they were supposed to be performing, but with every single day, the possibility of an accident is becoming bigger. In addition to that, one should also note that given the rising number of cars as well as changes in their design, one might note that many bridges are too narrow to handle the contemporary traffic. This contributes to their functional failure. Therefore, it is obvious that the satisfactory condition of bridges is just temporary.

The Condition of Railways

Similarly to the condition of bridges, the condition of railways received a “C” from the American Society of Civil Engineers. Some might point out that since it received such a grade this category of infrastructure objects should not be a focus on at all since it seems that the condition of it is not that bad. Moreover, there are some people who believe that railways should be used more by the citizens. For example, it has been pointed out that moving passengers or cargo by trains is more fuel efficient if compared to automobiles or planes (Lopez 2012). This is true since it takes less fuel to move a train if compared to a plane. Given the fact that the oil prices are becoming an important bargaining chip of the OPEC countries, the reliance on oil may become a potential vulnerability of the Unites States. So, it is clear that using railways has numerous advantages.

However, there are active opponents of this idea. Other that pointing out to the negative condition of railways as objects of infrastructure, the critics insist that this means of transportation is more time-consuming. It is obvious that in the contemporary world time is of the essence. That is why it is rather understandable that people are preferring to use other means of transportation. All this leads to the fact that railway system is underused by the contemporary American public. In spite of the fact that fewer people are using it and, therefore, cause less damage to it, the condition of railways is satisfactory. So, it is clear that there is a strong need of improvement since even with a small flow of people, the condition is gradually deteriorating.

The Condition of Seaports

It has been found that the seaports may be in the worst condition than any other kind of infrastructure objects. According to the report performed by the American Society of Civil Engineers, they received a D with a minus. One of the major problems that are associated with them is that the seaports are not maintained properly on a routine basis (Miller 2010). Indeed, the routine maintenance will prevent the condition from failing. However, it seems that given the poor condition that they are right now in, they have not been taken care of properly for a considerable period of time. Moreover, one should note keep in mind that as technology is developing, the ships are becoming bigger and may not meet the requirements that the seaports were building according to. In other words, this results in their functional failure since the newer ships will not be able to be handled properly, possibly causing damage to the ports.

Therefore, one might conclude that the majority of these objects is in severe need to be repaired. It is also worth mentioning that importance of seaports for the contemporary economy. Given the fact that China is one of the major trade partners of the Unites States, it is clear that the condition of seaports is likely to have a significant influence on their trade relations. In other words, it is an imperative that their condition is maintained since it has a strategic value. However, the reality may be quite the opposite: a considerable number of seaport are underfunded. This may have happened due to the fact that the government may not realize the extent of the importance of seaports in the contemporary times. Nevertheless, if it fails to take care of them, it is obvious that this will have terrible consequences.

The Condition of Dams

The condition of dams in the Unites State may be quite promising. The evidence suggests that out of 84,000 dams that are currently used in the country, approximately 4,400 need major repair (Moore 2013). In other words, only slightly more than 5% of the dams are in bad conditions which is much better than any other object of infrastructure that has been examined before. Nevertheless, one should not think that there are no problems that are associated with them. To begin with, it is worth mentioning that almost a third of the dams were built half a century ago and, therefore, are approaching the time when they have to be renovated. Furthermore, it is also worth mentioning that dams are constantly exposed to the influence of the negative factors. That is why their condition is likely to deteriorate more quickly if compared to other objects of infrastructure.

Furthermore, there are some other factors that should be considered while thinking about the need to perform maintenance. One would make no mistake suggesting that the population of the United States has increased greatly since the middle of the previous century, which is the time when many dams were constructed. Therefore, the population density in the areas below the dams is much higher now than it used to be. Given the fact that the condition is slowing deteriorating, dams may be seen as time bombs if they are not taken care of properly. Therefore, it seems that each year the risk of dams causing high damage is increasing. With this in mind, it is obvious that the government should not be deceived by the seemingly positive condition of the dams and make sure that these objects of infrastructure are taken care of properly. Therefore, one should note that more attention of the government is needed.

The Condition of Subways

Speaking of the condition of subways, one should note that it was similar to the average of other infrastructure objects – it received a “D”. In spite of the fact that subways systems are present in selected cities, it is clear that the number of people who uses them is big; that is why their condition was deteriorating slowly (Pearce & Ahn 2016). Even though subways systems were built in different times and one may speculate that some of them should be in better shape, the evidence shows that all of them are in need of repair. Since this means of transportation is widely used by the people in different cities, one should point out that the government should take a close look at this problem since the collapse of subways systems will have a significant negative impact on the lives of numerous people.

If one compares the conditions of different subways systems, one will be able to see that the one in Philadelphia may be in the biggest need of repair. The evidence points out that it was built in the early 1900s which makes it particularly old if compared to the rest of the systems. It is rather obviously that in more than a century it has been renovated and taken care of continuously, one should note that the frequency of it was not particularly high. That is why it seems that the system is still using the power stations that were introduced in the 1980s. By any calculations, it is obvious that this poses a great risk to the system in general. There have been concerns that in order to generate more money to deal with the ongoing problems, the fares will be increased. It is clear that the passengers will not be willing to pay more. So, it seems that charging people more is not the best solution in this case.

The Condition of Electric Grid

It had been mentioned earlier that when people think of infrastructure objects, they are more likely to consider roads and bridges rather than electric grids. Nevertheless, the latter represent an important element of the infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, this these objects were rated “D+”. One should keep in mind that electric grid may be compared to the circulatory system of an organism since it is responsible for delivering energy to the people who need to live, both figuratively and literally speaking (Singer & Friedman 2014). Therefore, those roads, bridges, seaports or dams may seem to be more important to the public, it is clear that people rely on power grid more than they rely on any other aspect of infrastructure.

One should not also forget about the fact that nowadays the computers are responsible for maintaining and managing various objects of infrastructure. While computers are not able to have a significant influence on roads, it is obvious that they are responsible for distribution of electricity. Given the fact that the possibility of cyber attacks in the contemporary world is rather high, it is obvious that the terrorists might target the electric grid as one of the ways to bring negative consequences to the Americans. In other words, one should note that the risk of failure of this infrastructure object is quite high though it may have been building significantly later. Furthermore, one should not forget about the fact that there are significant costs involved in maintaining and renovating electric grid. This may be one of the factors that deters the government from taking care of it.

The Importance of Regular Checks

Having considered the information that was presented above, one might suggest that since the condition is not critical, there may not be a need to address the problem immediately. Those who support this point of view insists that taking care of the infrastructure will result in a significant increase of the costs that will be associated with this decision (Vaughn 2011). In other words, while there are some kinds of objects that are clearly failing, for example, the seaports and the roads, there are some that are not failing such as dams and railways. So, it is essential for the public to refrain from directing money to the areas where they are not particularly needed. After all, it is clear that there will always be a need to take care of infrastructure; so, it is beneficial to wait for the moment when the intervention is critical and perform it.

In spite of the fact that this approach may be quite convincing, there are several flaws in it. First of all, one should point out that failure for objects of infrastructure is not something that happens according to a schedule. In other words, the scholars are able to calculate the risks, but they are not able to predict accurately when the next major event will take place to that it can be avoided. With this in mind, it is useless to wait for the  “best moment” to intervene. Furthermore, one should point out that in the case of a disaster, the government will have to spend much more money on mitigation of the consequences if compared to the situation when it had to invest in the repair prior to an accident. Therefore, it seems that the waiting strategy is a failing strategy after all since it potentially leads to negative consequences.

Future Implications

Finally, it may be useful to examine the future implications of the current state of infrastructure as well as any other aspect that is associated with this problem. As it has already been mentioned, the failing condition of the majority of the infrastructure objects may be regarded as a source of significant vulnerability of the country (Viotti, 2010). This can be understood in several ways. First of all, as it has been pointed out earlier, the poorer conditions the objects are, the easier target for the terrorists they become. That is why by refraining from maintaining the proper level of those objects, the government reduces the national security which is the opposite of what it is supposed to be doing. Secondly, failing infrastructure also makes the economy vulnerable to a number o risks. Thus, if a country is not able to rely on its infrastructure, then it will not be able to reach its full potential.

Furthermore, one should also point out that the problem of failing objects has deeper implications. For example, the United States currently enjoys one of the strongest economies in the world, the first by some estimates. In addition to that, one may also note that it is a widely recognized leader in various international affairs. So, one might assume that its domestic policies must be quite successful if it has time to focus on the foreign policy. This is the major line of reasoning of those who believe that failing infrastructure is a true disgrace to the country. In spite of the fact that this may not be completely true, it is obvious that the longer the objects are in such state, the more tension in the social environment they are likely to cause. Therefore, it is essential for the government to pay its attention to their maintenance if it wants to preserve harmony.

Discussion

Major Overhaul

The evidence which was presented above shows the current state of affairs in the infrastructure is not critical, yet it is approaching this state rapidly. One should point out that there has no single aspect of infrastructure that was not criticized by the report of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In other words, there are problems in virtually all areas, both the old and the new ones. All this leads to the understanding that it is not only renovation and maintenance that is needed, but a major overhaul of the entire infrastructure. Indeed, every element is closely connected to each other. Therefore, it would be useless to believe that once something it was taken care of, it will have a positive influence on the rest. This is not rational to hope that some areas of infrastructure can resort without a careful intervention.

What is even more important is that given the current state of affairs, it is possible that different objects may fail at once. Obviously, this does not mean that on a given day all bridges in the country will collapse, together with the road and the seaports. However, it is quite possible that if a dam collapses, it will cut the power of an entire region. It will be impossible to get to that region because the roads will be in terrible condition. This, in turn, will have a negative impact on other aspects. Therefore, it would be beneficial to develop a broad perspective on this issue since it will help to deal with various kinds of problems that can be identified with this regard. That is why it is a major overhaul that is needed rather than renovations.

The Importance of Priorities

In spite of the fact that it is crucial to address each individual problem, this is not likely to be realistic for various reasons. First of all, the country does not have a sufficient amount of funds to perform a major overhaul of all infrastructure objects. Secondly, this will put to halt many processes. All this logically leads to the importance of making certain areas of a higher priority. It is essential to keep in mind that though the entire infrastructure section is failing, the under-performance is spread unevenly. A good example is a difference between the quality of dams and roads: while it is only 5% of the former that are in need of repair, the majority of the latter need repair. In other words, it would be logical to make sure that those areas that were struck the most will be taken care of immediately.

What is even more important is that setting right priorities has several benefits. First of all, it will direct the attention of the government to the objects in the worst condition and urge it to repair them. This will contributes to the improvement of the overall quality of infrastructure since if the worst objects are removed, then they average level will go up significantly. Another point that should be mentioned is that when dealing with a problem in the worst condition, it is easier to make decisions because what needs to be done is clear. Finally, setting up priorities and fulfilling them will show that the government has made the first steps and is actively doing something to deal with the ongoing problem. It may not be much, but it is the start of a bigger project. That is why it may be useful to make sure that the priorities of the government are clearly articulated.

Maintaining versus Building New

It may be particularly useful to examine the strategic goal of the government when dealing with the failing infrastructure. For decades, the idea that the governmental agencies were fixed on was building new infrastructure. It was suggested that the quantity of the objects will make up for the quality of them. It is true that having several roads of medium quality is better than having a single road of superior quality. However, this may have been true for the time when the territory of the United States was not covered by the objects extensively. Therefore, from a particular perspective, this does make sense since it shows that the government was pursuing a specific goal and was not paying attention to some secondary goals. Nevertheless, over the decades, the goal of providing the population with an abundance of infrastructure objects was fulfilled. So, it would be logical to advocate a significant change.

With this in mind, it becomes obvious that today the government should be focused on maintaining the current objects rather than building new ones. There are several reasons to that. First of all, there is a reasonable number of infrastructure objects: if it is exceeded, then the efficiency of each object is reduced. If one takes a close look at the current situation, one will be able to see that there is no acute need to build more objects since the majority of them are placed in the strategic points. Therefore, the government should focus on maintenance of the current objects. Some might suggest that it may be rather difficult to implement; however, the important point is to make sure that the older objects are as functional and useful as the new ones. Therefore, the government might treat these projects as building something new, using the infrastructure that is already in place.

The Issue of Effectiveness

When it comes to the discussion regarding the improvement of the current infrastructure, one might suggest that it will inevitably lead to the issue of effectiveness. Thus, the opponents of taxes will point out that ordinary citizens are taxed by the government so that the latter can collect the money that it will use to repair the roads and make sure that other objects of the infrastructure are taken care of. Therefore, it is not the lack of money that prevents the government to deal with their failing state, but rather the lack of effective management. One would make no mistake that if proper goals are not chosen, no sum of money will automatically result in positive change. That is why it is essential to make sure that the projects that deal with infrastructure are performed by experienced managers.

As of now, there have not been any significant results in terms of improvement of infrastructure. Indeed, from time to time, the government makes sure that some objects are renovated. However, there is no system that would unite the actions. In other words, since the efforts to revive the infrastructure system are not coordinated properly, it may be rather difficult to achieve any specific result because they do not address the root problem or address it from a wrong perspective. This leads to a situation when despite the best efforts, the crisis is not taken care of.

Discussion of New Solution

Involvement of Federal Government

One of the first steps that should be taken while considering the possible ways to solve the problem focuses on the role of the federal government. It is essential to keep in mind that infrastructure should be recognized as the area that concerns every citizen of the country. That is why it may not be logical to apply the state boundaries to it. After all, interstate highways were built specifically to connect different states. So, by this logic, the best way to treat problems that are associated with them is to adopt a new perspective, in this case – the federal one. It is obvious, one might point out that all infrastructure objects are located on a territory of a particular state. So, one might assume the supremacy of the state laws over it. Nevertheless, for these particular purposes, it may be useful to make sure that the federal government plays an active role. It is not that the state government is not able to take care of it, but rather they lack the broad perspective on the issue.

There is another important point that should be stated with this regard: one of the major advantages of the involvement of the federal government lies in the fact that it will be particularly successful when coordinating works, especially if they involve authorities of several states. Indeed, if the states are required to cooperate with it other, they will put emphasis on the scope of their authority and will compete for gaining the support hand. However, if a project is supervised by the federal government, each state will be in equal conditions which will contribute to the effectiveness of the project. One would make no mistake suggesting that those people who advocate the restriction of the involvement of government in the affairs of the people will be strongly opposed to this approach. However, it is essential to point out that dealing with failing infrastructure is not a manner of political orientation, but a matter of result. Therefore, if the involvement of the federal government is able to bring the outcomes that are needed, then it should be engaged.

Controlling State Projects

One would make no mistake that the federal government will not be performing the actual renovation and repair, but rather rely on the actions of the state authorities. This way the people who are the closest to the problem will be engaged in the process. So, the first change that is required is setting a moratorium on further expansion of infrastructure. It is possible that if a state received money from the federal center, it will try to expand the infrastructure by building another road or a bridge. However, it is essential to make sure that this does not happen since this line of reasoning is partially the source of a problem. Indeed, the country does not need more infrastructure, it needs objects in better conditions.

One of the most effective ways to make sure that the state does not return to the path that they have been following before if control of the federal government over funds that are distributed among the states. For example, if a state was given a sum of money to restore a bridge, but it ended up starting building a new one, the supply of funds should be stopped because it is clear that they will not be used properly. Another point that should be mentioned with this regarding is that the federal government should make sure that this pattern is implemented all over the country. Indeed, it is not enough to break the tradition of building new when the old is failing in some states: it is essential to make sure that all the states are following with patterns. Therefore, the federal government should be responsible for this kind management.

Preventive Maintenance

Now, it may be useful to approach the topic of preventive maintenance. It has been pointed out that the current state of infrastructure is not critical. In spite of the fact that it is far from being ideal, it is obvious that even without any particular intervention from the side of the government, the infrastructure will perform its functions for at least a decade. That is why the current approach may be characterized as preventive. According to Levinson and Kahn, “every $1 in preventive maintenance saves between $4 and $10 in future repairs” (2011). This different is quite insightful: by spending funds today, the government will be able to save from 40% to 100% in the future. This is well aligned with the issue of effectiveness: Given this state of affairs, it is obvious that it is much better to spend now rather than wait until the problem is even worse.

Another point that should be mentioned with this regard is that the initiatives of the states that are aimed at preventive maintenance may be evaluated by the federal government and be seen as a bonus. For example, if a state shows its devotion to preventive maintenance by taking care of the objects of infrastructure that it has. The federal government will notice this and will direct more money to be spent on revitalizing the existing objects. As it has already been pointed out; as soon as a state government starts using money in a manner that is not aligned with the goal of preventative measurement, it will stop receiving funds. That is why it is clear that this may be seen as a powerful motivation for the states to put emphasis on preventive maintenance of the infrastructure since by doing so they will be able to ensure support of the government.

The Involvement of the Private Business

It is also worth pointing out that the involvement of private business may be quite beneficial. There are several reasons to that. First of all, one should note that private businesses will be able to contribute to the maintenance of the objects of the infrastructure, allowing the government to spend less on each object, thus eliminating the burden that is placed on the taxpayers to a certain extent. It is crucial to keep in mind that the businesses have significant funds in their possession; therefore, even partial involvement will result in the improvement of the infrastructure in general. Secondly, by doing so the companies will be able to show their devotion to Corporate Social Responsibility which is a concept which has been particularly popular among organization lately. Indeed, is there a better way of giving back to the community than participating in the renovation of the infrastructure?

Furthermore, one should note that there are several reasons that can motivate private businesses to help the government in maintaining the objects of infrastructure. First and most of all, by doing so they will be able to benefit from the improved conditions which will have a positive impact on the economy in general. In other words, by helping the government, the company will stimulate the market and the customers: they will buy more which will return in profits. Another point that should be mentioned with this regard is that the companies will also enjoy good publicity and will gradually build a positive image that they will be able to capitalize on. It is true that the participation in taking care of the infrastructure does not bring immediate benefits fro companies, but it is clear that in the long run, they will most certainly benefit from this action greatly.

Conclusion

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above one is able to come to the following conclusion: the contemporary state of the American infrastructure is not satisfactory and the government is expected to deal with it by directing funds to renovate it. It is essential to keep in mind that the quality of objects that make up infrastructure has been tracked for a considerable period of time and there is one trend that has been identified: it has been deteriorating over the years. One should point out the fact that the majority of the objects built in the 1950s and the 1960s with the period of time in the course of which they will be used designed for half a century. This leads to a logical understanding that now is the time when the majority of the objects of infrastructure should be taken care of. Moreover, the evidence suggests that virtually ever sector of infrastructure should be seen as one that is failing. Those which are affected the most are roads and seaports. Those which seem to be least affected are dams and the electric grid. It is worth pointing out that it is not only age that should be taken into account, but also the fact that the current patterns of consumption have changed dramatically if compared to the previous times. That is why one should consider the functional limitations of the objects and make sure that they are eliminated. What is even more important is that each sector is inseparably connected to all others. Therefore, if the government is expecting to improve the current state of affairs, it will have to find a sufficient amount of money to deal with it.

America’s failing infrastructure system seems to be a no-win battle. With more than 140,000 bridges in the United States that need repair and over 40 percent of the nation’s highways deteriorating more needs to be done by the federal government to correct these issues along with numerous others. Many economists and politicians agree that infrastructure is a critical part of the nation’s economy. If the infrastructure continues to degrade then the U.S. economy will surely follow. It has been estimated that the United States would have to spend in upward to $3.6 trillion to bring the infrastructure up to good repair by 2020 (Ritter, 2014). This spending of these funds needs to happen in order to ensure the nation’s productivity in the world trade market. It is essential to make sure that the major overhaul of all sectors is performed rather than superficial renovation. In addition to that, it has been found that preventive maintenance may be particularly useful since it enables the government to save a considerable amount of money.

It has been proposed that the federal government should be in charge of the dealing with the problems in the infrastructure since it will help the states to choose a new direction and make sure that they refrain from building new objects when they are able to renovate the old ones. This can be achieved by controlling the flow of the funds and ensuring that they are not used to build new objects. The opponents of the involvement of the government in the affairs of the citizens may oppose it; however, one should point out that dealing with the failing infrastructure is not a matter of partisan preferences: it is a matter of achieving results. That is why it may be useful to make sure that the government oversees the use of the money in order to improve the infrastructure.

References

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Fry, E. H. (2010). Lament for America: the decline of the superpower, plan for renewal. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Kahn, M. E., & Levinson, D. M. (2011). Fix It First, Expand It Second, Reward It Third: A New Strategy for America’s Highways. The Hamilton Project, 1-6. Retrieved June 10, 2017, from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/02_highway_infrastructure_kahn_levinson_brief.pdf

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Singer, P. W., & Friedman, A. (2014). Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: what everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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Winston, C. (2010). Last exit: privatization and deregulation of the U.S. transportation system. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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