American infrastructure is very outdated

American infrastructure is very outdated

Vermont residents have been kayaking through swirling streams in the streets in recent days. The heavy rains that fell in a short time caused severe flooding in the northeastern states of the United States. More than a hundred people had to be rescued and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed The Washington Post. The real panic came when the Wrightsville Dam threatened to break.

In the end, it was a doomsday scenario – the dam stands for now. But as water levels recede, Vermont’s vulnerability is exposed. More than half of the 363 dams are classified as dangerous or very dangerous according to a list of US officials, news channel USA Today reports. This means that if they break, there is a possibility of casualties.

The poor condition of the dams is part of a larger problem: the quality of much of the infrastructure is appalling. America is famous for its crime-free maintenance. The number of dilapidated buildings, broken roads and dilapidated bridges is huge. Many presidents have said they want to do something about it, but so far little has come of it.

A revolutionary investment scheme

Current President Joe Biden is also aware of the crumbling infrastructure. One of his spearheads when he moves to the White House in 2021: getting rid of that lingering legacy. He announced a revolutionary investment plan and promised to invest billions in infrastructure improvements. The question is whether that is enough. It is estimated that several trillion are needed.

Image by Bart Friso

According to TU Delft’s infrastructure expert Wijnand Veeneman, it has everything to do with funding. “In the Netherlands we expect a well-built and maintained infrastructure that we as citizens pay for,” he says. “In America, a lot of infrastructure is paid for with shares called stocks Bonds. Private parties can buy bonds in return for government payments.

As a result, the government focuses mainly on short-term investments in new infrastructure and less on maintaining existing ones.

Changing that system is difficult. Veenman points to a deep cultural difference. “In the Netherlands, we assume that if a ditch breaks, the government will take care of us. There is no such belief in America. Americans see government as a necessary evil, where you should spend as little money as possible. But a smaller government can provide less, such as well-maintained infrastructure.

Longevity cost

The scientist also identifies vulnerabilities in the Dutch system. “Since the 1960s, a lot of hard work has gone into new construction, and very little consideration has been given to longevity and associated costs. The challenge is to maintain quality in the coming decades. The focus has shifted from building new roads and rail lines to maintaining existing facilities.

The flooding in Vermont evokes memories of Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, which killed six people in the state. No peace for now. Heavy rain is expected on Thursday and Friday. “The danger is not over yet,” Gov. Bill Scott said. “It’s too far.”

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Biden will invest billions in infrastructure

US President Joe Biden has offered the US another new economic support package in 2021, hundreds of billions of dollars for the infrastructure of the world’s largest economy.

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