By on July 17, 2016

Bridge Collapse

The United States is in a pretty bad spot. Even as the economy recovers from the depressing lows of 2008 and 2009, road, trail, and air travel infrastructure in the United States is failing at an alarming rate. Many underfunded municipalities are even ripping up paved roads and replacing them with gravel as a way to ease budgetary shortfalls.

But is there anything the United States can do to catch up with degrading roads, failing levies, and overflowing airports? Before you pump that cheap dino juice into your Maibatsu Monstrosity today, give this report from Business Insider a watch.

According to BI, some $16 trillion worth of goods travels through the United States each year, and the state of its future movement about the country is precarious at best.

From BI:

Our flood-prevention systems fail too often. Our commutes take too long. Domestic travel is miserable. Our freight system can’t move cargo around smoothly. America used to have the best infrastructure in the world, but now we’re falling behind. Why is that? And what can be done?

In this special report, Business Insider’s Andrew Stern travels by plane, train, and automobile to talk to civil engineers, freight companies, public-policy experts, and authors. The question: How did we become the United States of Disrepair? And can we fix it?

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155 Comments on “BI: How Do We Fix the United States of Disrepair? [VIDEO]...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Flying Cars. Now.

    • 0 avatar

      You had me by 2 seconds.

      Thing is, this story should have been up a long time ago

      *Mark Stevenson*

      You never replied to my offer to give TTAC a writeup and video for Cadillac’s TRUTH + DARE event.

    • 0 avatar

      That’ll be something for a distant future, perhaps. The funny thing is that the answer is right in front of our noses. Why do we keep using cars that weigh 10-30 times as much as the average driver, and that are as wide as the driver measures in length? Funny way of going from A to B for a person, effectively lying across a freeway lane, particularly during rush hour. Most of the wear, tear and energy is related to moving cars back and forth that usually carry just one person (i.e. the driver).

      • 0 avatar
        manny_c44

        Ok ok we all need an Isetta or a Reliant Robin, we get it.

        • 0 avatar

          For commuting purposes, running errands, that sort of thing, it does make sense. At least as an alternative. Never asked yourself: What is this big lump of iron all around me doing here? I’m sitting here all by myself. A fuel bill of which 95% is spent on moving around the device that usually carries only me…

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            Because we also choose to move tons of freight on the same roads, in all weather conditions, and strap children into our vehicles?

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      Get this hump a Flying Dale now!

  • avatar

    Put in a president who considers AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE (not elsewhere’s) TOP PRIORITY.

    America is currently spending over $50,000 PER SECOND.

    How many bridges and roads would the $1 Trillion plus wasted on F-35 jets fix?

    Or the other waste on corporate welfare and foreign “investments”.

    What do we need F-35 for when we are shooting at poorly-armed, poorly-armored ground targets with no air defenses – busy playing MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE with Mack trucks?

    We will NEVER fight China or Russia directly anyway.

    B2 Bomber was a MASSIVE WASTE as well.

    F22 as well.

    We couldn’t build A SECOND FREEDOM TOWER and meanwhile: “THEY” are building buildings half a mile and even plan to build buildings a mile tall…

    We need a real leader.

    Congress has been bought off.

    Some of the activist/ inappropriate social-justice warriors in the SCOTUS (not gonna name names) minds are “shot”.

    NO WE DO NOT HAVE A “TAX PROBLEM”…

    We have a SPENDING PROBLEM.

    We have a PRIORITY PROBLEM.

    “The people” are taxed out and their money is going to make other countries stronger while we risk death crossing our bridges.

    I can’t wait to vote in November.

    this country’s problems are a failure of leadership and a failure of government being manipulated by special interests.

    If we had one person determined to make America great again – able to put our priorities in order, we could solve most of our problems in less than 5 years. Do you know how many Americans I could put back to work IN FACTORIES making products to sell to countries we have disallowed free trade with?

    Cuba, Iran… the list goes on and on.

    Tons of untapped human capital.

    We could literally be building moon bases.

    WE GOT TO THE MOON in 1969 and WE CAN’T REBUILD TWO TOWERS in 2016???

    We can’t stop bridges from crumbling?

    I can’t wait to vote…I could rip the handle off the voting machine from voting so hard.

    This country has been MADE UNPRODUCTIVE so that we are FORCED to RELY on people we can’t even trust. they look out for THEIR INTERESTS.

    If more Americans traveled – they’d understand how our dollar makes everyone else stronger except us.

    I don’t expect many people to agree with me but I do want you to understand I AM A VOTER and I’m going to be VOTING for America’s best interest.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      One thing you DON’T want to do is elect Ma Pantsuit Cankles as POTUS…

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-16/war-coming-and-global-financial-situation-lot-worse-you-may-think

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      I remember when George Herbert Walker Bush ’41 said in 1992:

      “We must reinvest in our infrastructure.”

      And then a grinning Clinton co-president candidate pair said, “He’s out of touch! Don’t you know infrastructure means roads, and water, and sewer, and that sort of thing? That’s not the road to the future!”

      • 0 avatar

        Infrastructure improvements were one of the original targets of Pres. Obama’s stimulus package in 2009. However, when the Democratic base got upset that so much money was going to end up in the hands of men, who do most construction work, the focus was shifted more towards education and health care, which tend to employ women.

        Christina Hoff Sommers has the story here:
        http://www.weeklystandard.com/no-country-for-burly-men/article/17737

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          It has been the bizarre yo-yo.

          I remember 2009: “Men can’t compete, can they? Mancession! The future is female!”

          Then, when men got back to work by 2011: “What is Obama doing that men are now getting ahead of women and back to work? What is he going to do about women staying permanently out of the workforce?”

          A giant chunk of that ARRA money went to shore up payrolls of municipalities that voted the right way.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Thanks for that reminder, Ronnie. Wasn’t that approx. $1T ?

        • 0 avatar
          Delta88

          I agree that more should have been spent on infrastructure but the suggestion that this meeting had a significant impact on the final bill is not exactly “set in stone” fact. I’m not sure if you’re upset that women have a voice now almost equal to men and can influence policy or if it’s about the actual allocation of money.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Recovery_and_Reinvestment_Act_of_2009

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Ronnie,
          Do you have sources that aren’t neocon opinion sites owned by Rupert “Fox News” Murdoch?

          You make a good point reminding the B&B that Obama championed infrastructure, and then lose us with the usual misogyny. Hard to believe you’re divorced.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            You’ve confused them with the facts, Ronnie. Doesn’t line up with their re-vomitted Think Progress talking points.

        • 0 avatar
          Fred

          Well it’s not like the Republicans wanted it either.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          One of the best analysis of the American Recovery Act.

          http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2012/08/the_new_new_deal_a_book_argues_that_president_obama_s_stimulus_has_been_an_astonishing_success.html

          “The New Deal produced tangible, monumental physical achievements—dams, trails, works of art, buildings. The stimulus produced none of that. There were no new bridges—instead they repaved old ones. Why? Why didn’t the Obama administration look for physical structures to build and celebrate?

          I wouldn’t say “none of that.” The stimulus is producing the world’s largest wind farm, a half dozen of the world’s largest solar arrays, and America’s first refineries for advanced biofuels. It’s creating a battery-manufacturing industry for electric vehicles almost entirely from scratch. It financed net-zero border stations and visitors centers, an eco-friendly new Coast Guard headquarters, a one-of-a-kind “advanced synchrotron light source.” It jump-started three long-awaited mega-projects in Manhattan alone—the Moynihan Station, the Second Avenue Subway, and the Long Island Railroad connection to the East Side—and it would have jump-started that multibillion-dollar rail tunnel to New Jersey as well if Governor Chris Christie hadn’t killed the project.”

        • 0 avatar
          mr.cranky

          Sounds like a bizarro-world conservative meme.

          Hell, this whole comment section is riddled with such.

          Best and Brightest? Mrs.Pantsuit Cankles? Give me a break.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            “Best & Brightest” or “B&B” is actually the label we at TTAC use to refer to ourselves. Originally it was sincere, but now it’s mostly used tongue-in-cheek.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        “Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomo… BOOM!”

    • 0 avatar
      Delta88

      The president is not in charge of funding anything (particularly buildings in Manhattan). That is the legislative branch you are thinking of. And more specifically it is the conservative wing that cuts funding off at the knees. Raising the gasoline tax would go a long way to solving this problem with minimal impact on a majority of people. Income taxes were a lot higher back in the golden age you are so wistful for.

      Whoever is elected president is far less important than congress and the house when it comes to these matters.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        Tell us another story of long-lost constitutional republicanism and federalism. Our current and former president operated with considerable autonomy, and our Congress looks much more like a Duma.

        I really would like to see a Congress that asserted itself as the actual supreme branch of the federal government, but, given how much they’ve handed off to agencies and the courts, they are impotent.

        Where is this conservative wing of which you speak? What does that word even mean anymore? The federal budget grows every year; the debt grows every year. There is definitely no “balanced budget” and no “small government” party.

        • 0 avatar
          Delta88

          I should have said “religious conservative party” that used to be a little more interested in fiscal matters than they are now.

          Now they are obsessed with what women do with their lady-parts and if two guys want to lovingly adopt a child that might not have been born without their meddling in the aforementioned lady-parts business.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            What does that have to do with autos, or bridges, or wasted tax dollars?

            And how is PUSHING BACK against the crazies who want to create social chaos, everywhere from the nation’s borders to the nation’s restrooms…how is PUSHING BACK to keep society the way it was, the way it evolved through millions of years of experience…how is that somehow radical and repugnant?

            There are better places to post your shibboleths. (Look it up).

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            “to keep society the way it was, the way it evolved through millions of years of experience”

            Inshallah!

            My Brother!

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I miss the good old days when we could burn witches and own slaves. When we had a bad day, we could relieve our frustrations by beating our wives.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            That’s the opposite of evolution, freezer-chest.

            And that’s also what your masters want. To STOP progress. They call themselves liberal but they’re the opposite of Classical Liberalism offers.

            Which is common with the Left – they appropriate names and labels the opposite. People’s Republics. Free the Workers. Glorious Revolution.

            Before the Glorious Revolutionaries can set up their Perfect Utopia, they have to level this world. Destroying cultural underpinnings is part of that.

            There’s a term for persons who helpfully, unwittingly, do their dirty work for them. “Tools.”

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Shame on me for enjoying this guy so much.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Hard to believe you find time to enjoy anything given the time you spend emptying bottles of hand lotion and applying topical anesthetic ointment.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Heh… cheeken sheetz slaps edit button, no?

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            “Now they are obsessed with what women do with their lady-parts…”

            I didn’t know that the Republican Party used to be pro-abortion. Thanks for the history lesson.

    • 0 avatar
      cartunez

      BT I normally don’t address your rants because I find them mostly interesting but you do realize that your beloved GOP mandates the US spend more than 1 trillion dollars a year on warfare. They haven’t found a war yet they don’t like. Until the American people force the elected overlords to realize the US is no longer the only superpower in the world you are going to continue to see deficits and more and more war. These clowns haven’t passed an official budget in over 8 years. Total tax inflows are at 2.9 trillion and they are spending 4.1 trillion every year. 21 trillion in debt plus the unfunded liabilities of probably around 200 to 300 trillion. This is a mess that we as a country going to have to address. Speaking of ranting where the hell is DW?

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        The amount squandered on federal social programs dwarfs the amount wasted on wars, as bad as that is. Trillions have been poured down the New Deal and Great Society ratholes with no end in sight.

        There really should be no social programs at the federal level. In fact early in this country’s history the central government did not deal with individuals at all except in limited circumstances, and that is the way it is supposed to be.

        With those programs eliminated and less money sent to Washington the states and municipalities would have a much easier time raising the money needed to fix crumbling roads and bridges.

        A big problem of course is that today most people have been conditioned from an early age to believe the federal government is properly responsible for pretty much everything in their lives. Thus, among other things, we have people calling for the federal government to fix state and local roads.

        The lack of funds for infrastructure is not due to lack of money being collected. Overall far to much is extracted from the private sector in taxes. The problem is that so much of it being misspent.

        Oh, and those crazy high tax rates that some like to quote as having existed decades ago? Due to the deduction structure nobody actually paid them unless they had an unexpected windfall. (Which of course makes sense. Nobody is going to put forth the effort into acquiring large amounts of wealth if the federal gangsters are just going to steal nearly all of it right off the top.)

        Then of course someone will pipe up about “duly elected government” or some such rot — but when you elect gangsters and thugs they are still gangsters and thugs, the vote does not change their essential nature. However we’re probably drifting a bit too far from the subject matter of this site; for an automotive web site that combines and encourages political discussions along with automotive topics I would recommend ericpetersautos.com.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      BigTrucks,
      This might come as a shock to you, but ISIS is not the main threat to the “American Way of Life”. Politicians, media and people like you tend to overstate the impact of terrorism. America always seems to want to have the “bad guy”, like a Superman movies, good vs evil to exist.

      So, what about the Chinese? Vlad Putin and Russia? What will you say, oh they are not a problem. Well they are.

      The US, like all major powers historically ruled the world for trade. If you can control trade you can control the world. This is the tussle.

      The US’es influence is waning economically, ever since WWII when it represented half of world economic might to now with around 20% or world economic might.

      This makes it harder for the US to assert its position. I read many comments on TTAC regarding past US performance and this is used as a current measure of the US’es current global position.

      The US is still very influential, but not commanding. The US now more than ever needs to play ball with everyone else to ensure it’s quality of life doesn’t go backwards. Once this is realised by the masses then the US will be able to move forward.

      What I do find striking is the US (and most OECD) countries wanted the rest of the world to adopt our ways and lifestyle. Now that a greater part of the world has headed in that direction we now complain about competition.

      We wanted them to be like us, and now we complain???? WTF????

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Despite the cost of some weapons systems, the military budget isn’t the big problem. It’s Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Seeing that the elderly and disabled don’t starve to death in the street or die because they can’t afford medical care is a noble undertaking. However, it’s bankrupting us. We aren’t productive enough to have that much spare cash available.

      Don’t you remember the cold ware between the US and Russia. A strong military kept the Russians from walking into any country they chose and replacing its government with one friendly toward them instead of toward us.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Kendahl,
        I believe industrial welfare is a bigger culprit. This allow inefficiencies to develop and subsidise those who shouldn’t be.

        Propping up industry is a lot of wasted cash.

        I think helping the individual should come first and not throwing money at industry, whether it is a farmer growing corn or an auto manufacturer.

        Also, a livable minimum wage is required. My belief is, if someone is good enough to get out of bed and work, irrespective if they are packing shelves or a neuro surgeon they should have an income able to sustain themselves. This will greatly reduce your social welfare bill.

        This will remove a large part of welfare. This will also improve productivity as companies try and find a better way to produce goods and services.

        In Australia we pay roughly the percentage of tax as the US as a product of GDP and we have a very good public health system. The cost of health in the US is overpriced compared to it’s competitors, actually double Australia which has the second highest health costs per person.

        So if the US can save $6 000 of health cost per year per person to equal what we spend that is a massive amount of money. Paying more for US health hasn’t given the US a better health system. It’s just the professionals and large business involved are making a lot of money, at the expense of the consumer.

        Another area to save money is to means test those receiving seniors welfare, that monthly pay from the US government. I do know people have paid into it for all their lives. But, there has come a time when it will cost more than keeping it alive. So, if you can be self supporting, then you don’t get seniors welfare. Now I’ll hear those selfish ones, who put themselves in front of their country.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          “I think helping the individual should come first and not throwing money at industry, whether it is a farmer growing corn or an auto manufacturer.”

          I agree at least partially with this. Subsidies for farmers growing corn has only led to crappy E10 gas and HFCS being added to everything. People used sugar cane, honey, fruit, etc to sweeten things for centuries and that was fine, we didn’t need this artificial corn sh*t financed by the government.

      • 0 avatar
        jthorner

        Social Security and Medicare are actually bringing in more revenue each year than they are paying out in expenses. It amazes me how many people assume that deficit spending in these programs is the source of our current budget deficits.

        https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4a3.html

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        You are very very wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @BTSR
      Have been around the US in 2007 and it was in a state of disrepair then, hate to know what it is now. Put US Taxpayers money into infastructure, cut out some defence spending to at least get a half decent road and rail system.

    • 0 avatar
      CV Neuves

      »How many bridges and roads would the $1 Trillion plus wasted on F-35 jets fix?«

      You simply support communism and the Chinese way of life. Your daughters are probably already wearing hejabs, at least at home. You probably also download – illegally – mp3s.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      Apparently for members of the party of pachyderms like BTSR, ignorance is a virtue…. bombast is more important than policy, making outlandish promises that you cannot keep is acceptable, and supporting a candidate who epitomizes all of the worst possible traits in human beings is ok even though they have most likely taught their kids to act exactly the opposite is not a problem.

  • avatar
    vww12

    The first thing that needs to be said is that 36% of the federal gasoline tax _is_not_spent_on_roads_.

    36% of the federal gasoline tax is diverted to mass transport, bicycle paths thru the forests, diesel engine subsidies for municipal bus systems, etc.

    What this means is that if the “Highway Trust Fund” gasoline tax were actually spent on highways, you would automatically have almost 50% more money to spend on roads.

    Is this a big secret? No, the US Department of Transportation itself tells you. Here are the slides from US DOT:

    http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l380/vww12/funds-diverted-from-roads-highways.jpg

    http://i329.photobucket.com/albums/l380/vww12/a-fifth-of-gasoline-taxes-subsidy-t.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Delta88

      There are two sides to that coin. Spending on alternative forms of transportation keeps less vehicles off the road, in theory, and reduces the amount congestion and need to build more roads. And less wear on the roads we have.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      We do something similar here, where federal money is matched to the various Australian States contribution

    • 0 avatar
      asapuntz

      I believe this “diversion” is mostly a question of partitioning / protecting funding sources.

      There’s plenty of money from the general fund that goes to roads – fuel taxes and registration fees cover 30-50%.

      http://taxfoundation.org/article/gasoline-taxes-and-tolls-pay-only-third-state-local-road-spending

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Bring some dynamite and a crane,
    blow it up, start all over again

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      More advocacy for terrorism, I see.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        That’ a line out of a British rock song, dummy.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Oh, you are the one!

          Every once in a while the stars align and the rivers cease flowing for that Golden Moment when…

          we are given a malicious, energetic troll with a mental density to match his hate.

          You are the fast ball in the sweet spot. The 3-point swish where you can *feel* the ball drag through the fat, new net. The dropped duck with no pellets below the neck.

          Thank you for sharing you.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Now that is just hate speech and I’m afraid I’ll have to report you. Besides, you never were one for sports and guns only confuse and frighten you.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Another lie and yet another insult. The writer of Tobacco Road was John D. Loudermilk, an American.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            I never claimed the Nashville Teens wrote it, VoGo, but it’s amusing to note how fussy you can get. Simply joyless.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The mis allocation and diversion of funds is the primary culprit , few grasp this simple concept .
    .
    -Nate
    (flying HELLCATS would be cool though)

    • 0 avatar
      SWA737

      there ya go

      http://www.warbirdalley.com/f6f.htm

    • 0 avatar

      You said it…I didn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Nate and vww12 beat me to it.

      And while the Left likes to pretend the answer is MOAR TAXES and MOAR GOVERNMENT, the reality is that any more resources will be wasted exactly like the resources they already have.

      The roads, bridges etc are not being repaired because those in charge are variously unable or unmotivated to DO their work. And because many of them enjoy the issue as a political football, to use in their quest for greater power and a deeper tax dig.

      Yeah, I know, this is an automotive blog. But the Left uses autos to push their toxic agenda – as they use families, children, the environment, foreign policy, and everything ELSE to push their schemes.

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        ^^^ +1 ^^^

      • 0 avatar
        Delta88

        JustPassinThru
        Therein lies the problem. As one of those “lefties” I could easily have written your last paragraph and replaced one word with with “right-wing.”

        • 0 avatar
          mtmmo

          As a recovering Liberal I can tell you if you wrote “right-wing” there wouldn’t be any truth to it.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            mtmmo, congrats on breaking through the indoctrination of your youth.

            Now you just have to break through the indoctrination of a convert.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          “Therein lies the problem. As one of those “lefties” I could easily have written your last paragraph and replaced one word with with “right-wing.””

          Except that the “lefties” on this blog don’t pollute it with screeds of hate and insults.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….the reality is that any more resources will be wasted exactly like the resources they already have….

        A nugget of wisdom in a trail of right wing detritus. Sad to say, you are correct with that statement. I’d have no problem with a 15 cent gas tax earmarked for roadway improvement, except that I know the moment more money is needed somewhere else, the highway funds will be diverted.

        Can you imagine how much our infrastructure could have been improved if we chose to fix it instead of waste trillion on the Worthless War with Iraq. Cheney and Company sure made out well though.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        It’s not a left or right wing problem. Everyone knows the money goes elsewhere. The GW Bridge is the world’s busiest bridge and at $15 from NJ to NY, it has collected enough tolls to pay for itself. Some of the money was supposed to go toward building Freedom Tower, but some of it just vanished.

        Since we’re car guys, everyone is arguing about roads. I watched the video and water levees need to be fixed, a railroad knot in Chicago needs to be untied, and airlines and airports need improving. Competing countries spend 10% of their GDP on infrastructure while the U.S. spends less than 2% of its GDP.

        The video also argues that the transportation modes operate in silos with their own, and often competing agendas. Until they are united, we will continue to fall behind.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          That money is not “gone” it goes to outrageous salaries and pensions. Blame public service unions…..

          “In 2013, a police lieutenant at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey retired with an annual salary of $129,000; the next year, he began collecting a lifetime pension of $172,000, or one-third above his base pay. The officer had managed to juice up his annual pension through pay sweeteners provided by the Port Authority, including lots of overtime work. He was far from alone. An assistant operations manager at one of the Port Authority–controlled New York airports retired at a salary of $89,000, but soon began collecting a pension of $103,000, 16 percent above annual pay.”

          http://www.city-journal.org/html/bloated-broke-and-bullied-14329.html

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            Yes, the bloated costs of unions and how the system is gamed explains some of it, but I am concerned about the missing money that is unaccounted for. How much disappear as perks? How much goes into politicians’ pockets? Corruption on the Christie side of the bridge and tunnel authority has been in the news. Again, infrastructure is not a left or right wing issue.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    This presents a challenging situation, however this topic gets attention every few years and then it goes away. To me a lot of the issues presented are really discipline and timing issues. The infrastructure in this country was built in a relatively short time period (historically speaking). Since it was built, it’s now entered a stage of maintaiance and I’m not certain that this stage was ever planned for; as a result we’re now past the maintain stage and have slipped into the deferred maintenance stage which is difficult to complete. Being a car blog, the analogy is having your favorite car, doing no maintenance for 8 years and then realizing that it takes more to fix it than it would to replace it. However replacing our roads, airports and train system isn’t an option, but digging out of the hole we’re in is far more expensive than anyone is willing to pony up for. How do you pay for this problem–raise taxes? Oh the howling that would ensue. Leave it current funding levels as-is? Well, it will just continue to crumble. Maybe technology will assist with lowering the cost of repairs, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that quite yet. Big data is great to tell you what the problem is and how much it will cost to fix, but in the end it will still take resources to correct the issue.
    I don’t presume to be a historian, but I’d be curious to have a greater understanding of what funded the works projects that built our infrastructure in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “The infrastructure in this country was built in a relatively short time period (historically speaking).”

      Bravo.

      And it was built under demographic and fiscal conditions never to be repeated. What we have for infrastructure is the equivalent of an awesome grant from a super rich donor long dead and whose kids were heroin junkies and grandkids meth heads.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      zamoti,
      WWII built the current system.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      zamoti, you are correct. Once the deterioration of concrete and steel reach a certain level, its becomes much more difficult and expensive to repair. At a certain point, replacement becomes the only cost effective way. Of course, since you have to keep the roadway open, the costs of the project mushrooms. At least there is some hope for longer lasting construction today. Modern materials, such as epoxy coated rebar, concrete with high compressive strength, water proof coatings, sealants, etc. should allow the new work should last for a very long time.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    Build cars with doors that open like this, not like this, like this…

  • avatar
    mchan1

    There’s so many issues that don’t have easy answers.

    -STOP the borrowing of highway funds for other funds.
    -Repay those borrowed funds back into the highway funds.
    -DECREASE government spending or limit it harshly!
    –> Many govt programs need to be reduced or eliminated.
    -STOP giving out federal (& state) tax credits for ‘special groups’ (i.e. EV credits… many people already have the money to PAY for those vehicles and do NOT NEED govt credits!)
    – Heaven forbid people to grow a conscience and actually help with the various issues instead of just complaining about the government.
    – Legislatures need (but won’t) to take responsibility for all their actions instead of just looking out to keep their jobs!

    It’s basically looking at a situation where damage is already done and there’s lots of fixing up that needs to be done but…
    – Everyone plays the blame game? WHO CARES! The damage is done!
    – Where’s the funding? Oh, right.. it was borrowed and already spent ELSEWHERE!
    – Where’s the growing concern? Oh, right.. the general public don’t give a SH!T about anything except themselves.

    Trouble is coming to the U.S.
    Heaven help this country!

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    What everybody above said. The federal gov’t isn’t building the interstate highway anymore. There is no longer a need for a federal highway trust fund, except they need that money for politically favored pet projects, and of course to extort the states into complying with their diktats. Drop the federal gas tax to 5 cents a gallon max and let the states raise theirs to whatever they need to maintain the infrastructure in their states.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    The proximal problem is that the government doesn’t pay serious attention to this issue. It doesn’t really matter who is in power or what they promise on a given day because the ultimate problem is human nature:

    We don’t deal with serious issues until they are crippling and we have no other choice.

    It doesn’t matter that dealing with it sooner would be less painful than later; unless it significantly detracts from out way of life, it won’t get any serious attention.

  • avatar
    probert

    Raise the gas tax for the first time in around 30 years?

    Oh no!! I meant to say, blame Obama and corrupt gummint.

    Oh my!!, I meant to say keep yer hands off my freedum.

    Lordy!!! – all I wanted to say was , “Please pass the salt.”

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      See why I said flying cars? One and done.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      I think people would be more apt to support a tax increase if they saw some attempt to reign in waste. I for one can see that this fix will likely require additional funding HOWEVER I have no doubt that under the status quo any additional funding would be wasted or diverted to other causes. All people like me want to see is some effort made to spend my tax dollars wisely. As it is increased funding would be akin to giving a loan to a junkie but I will grant you the fact that one day we will have to get there.

      What if they proposed a program that was over multiple years. The early years focused on trimming the fat and eliminating waste. Even allow an independent audit of the whole program. Then, providing certain benchmarks were met begin to raise the tax a bit. Seems like something both sides could get behind.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    If we could trust Washington DC to dedicate specific taxes to specific things – something state and local government actually seems somewhat capable of doing – we would not be paying for the Spanish American War after over 115 years on every cell phone bill.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    I will try this once again…the government of the people for the people is an illusion.
    This…is about out of control growth and waste.

    If anybody here is yet unclear or aware of the amount of waste the US Government has is either enjoying it because they are part of it or simply pleasantly ignorant or in denial.

    Government now is a beast that has taken on a goal and that gal is simply to get bigger. Those in charge are considered a “class” onto themselves. Programs started to fix become entities unto themselves. Like cancers…they begin to consume everything around them and exist only for their own growth.

    Unholy bonds are formed between this ruling elite class and the massive unions and sinful money whores that protect it. Pensions and retirement debts are heaped upon the states and citizens.

    The money is there. We in America are taxed and the government gets enough.
    However, this is about government waste.

    If you are still dazed and confused about the lack of funds for this infrastructure, then you need to bring yourself up to speed o the actual billions wasted …then do so.

    Please inform yourselves.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      TrailerTrash,
      It appears what someone might call waste is what someone else calls welfare.

      To me it seems what is called waste is tax money that benefits someone else and not yourself.

      Stop industrial welfare, tax write offs, open up to freer trade. Let the deadwood sink and more profitable business will be the outcome.

      I don’t hear much about the over $3 000 per vehicle in direct and indirect handouts, subsidies, protection, etc for the US auto industry.

      How many billions is spent there and why not stop is and spend it on transport infrastructure.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        Big Al

        I am not even talking about welfare or entitlement programs…that would be a whole different table of pork.

        No…I am referring to actual waste.
        Lost money.
        Illegally appropriated funds.
        Duplicated spending.
        Graft.
        Double dipping.

        I have a hundred reports from the US Government itself about found and documented waste. But it is almost ignored as if this spending is just the normal day to day way of doin business.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    For every $2 that we collect in fuel taxes, we spend $3 on roads.

    So we would need a 50% fuel tax increase even if we did reside in this utopia where roads are funded solely through fuel taxes and fuel taxes are used only on roads. And if you want to actually maintain those roads to a reasonable standard, then we would need to increase the taxes even more than that, given the amount of deferred maintenance that the US has today.

    In any case, much of our road wear comes from semi trucks. So perhaps all of you need to accept the fact that under any of these scenarios, we are subsidizing the trucking industry.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “we are subsidizing the trucking industry”

      Even that Baressi guy?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        We’re going to need to keep subsidizing him because he’s probably not going to have a commercial driver license for much longer.

        In any case, he won’t be able to get insurance for his truck unless Denver Mike and some other TTAC posters start an insurance company.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Until roads are fixed we need to build cars that can actually work in rough roads.

    Out with the huge rims! Out with the low fat overhangs! Out with pretentious “sporty handling” on Mommy grocery getters! There’s a reason why trucks and CUVs are in.

    Oh and fail any safety on a car thats been “slammed”, they just serve to hold up traffic when a bump arrives.

    I would be a terrible president if only because I’d pass somewhat trivial laws, but I would make our roads decent again.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      A president that isn’t focused on ginning up polarization and division… the challenges are significant and they will require a leader and legislature that have the required motivation and the understanding that promoting disharmony and lining their pockets while kicking the can down the road are seen for what they are and will no longer be tolerated.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Your whining about polarization is akin to a Klansman complaining about racism.

        I realize that you find the very idea of a black Democrat (or, for that matter, any Democrat) to be offensive, but you ought to remember that your precious Mopar wouldn’t exist today were it not for two Democratic presidents who bailed it out.

        • 0 avatar
          mtmmo

          Nothing funnier than seeing Pch 101 acting on his white privilege using covert racism to drive a falsehood. I’m a minority and last time I checked the KKK wasn’t out killing black cops.

          And as a former Democrat with A LOT of experience dealing with Leftists like Pch 101 rest assured he grinned when he read several more cops were murdered today. Leftism truly is a mental disorder.

        • 0 avatar
          GeneralMalaise

          Proggies like this PCH really can’t help themselves. They preach tolerance and are among the most intolerant on the planet. That’s why so many of them find common cause with radical Islam, e.g., the destruction of the West.

  • avatar
    John

    Listened to an interview with an engineer who just had a book published about America’s infrastructure (wish I could remember the title, but can’t, offhand). He estimated a cost to bring all US infrastructure up to reasonable repair – not just roads – all infrastructure – not perfect, but reasonable – to be about $3 trillion – very close to what we’ve tossed down the rat-hole with our disastrous Middle East military adventures over the last 20 or so years.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Its not just the US with these problems, I’d say most countries are having these infrastructure problems.

    The reality is we want more than what we earn. Everyone wants great roads, rail and airports. But many also don’t want to pay tax, then everyone wants a piece of that welfare, whether it’s a tax write off or direct handout.

    I believe in moving towards a more user pays society. Not completely.

    I do know here in Australia our postal system is expensive by US standards, but Australian Post must not run at a lose.

    Roads here could be better, except the farmers cry they want blacktop to their farms, even if the road ends up being a 20km driveway.

    The problem is we want all for nothing, paying no taxes and when this doesn’t occur we blame, immigrants, unemployed etc for taking away the money required.

    Infrastructure costs lots and to repair will cost lots, whether you support Donnie Dump or Hillary Cliton. This means more tax.

    Fuel taxation is the best way forward for road infrastructure. It shouldn’t be that hard to calculate. X amount is needed per year.

    More expensive fuel doesn’t mean more expensive transport. You will buy a vehicle to that will cost the same amount to get to work and play.

    This ain’t rocket science. But people will complain about government waste. To me it seems what people call government waste is tax dollar directed at someone else other than them.

    To reduce costs first stop industrial welfare, agri welfare, etc. This would save a trillion or two every year to be spent on infrastructure.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Get rid of toll roads and raise the gasoline taxes at both the state and federal levels. Pass legislation that forbids your elected overlords from stealing the monies (AGAIN).

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    Fixing infrastructure? It’s another utopian pipe dream.

    Here’s the facts, cold and unfeeling as they are. Our modern infrastructure was built at a time when America had unquestioned global economic dominance. We could afford to build huge freeways and massive public works projects.

    Now? Our industrial base is overseas. In the years to come our intellectual capital will follow. When engineers from Delhi can do the same job as ones from Chicago on half the pay , the same thing that happened to the blue collar workforce will happen to the white collar ones, starting with the highest earning ( and thus higher cost to firms) positions.

    Combined with an increasing national population this means our standard of living in the US is inevitably going to decrease, barring some major technological or social revolution. Which means there won’t be enough of a tax base to pay for infrastructure improvements even if the political will existed.

    Sure taxes could be increased, but folks will dodge around that as best possible. So at the end of it the government can’t realistically increase collections beyond what the economy will bear even by fiat.

    The short version; our infrastructure situation is like a teenager inheriting his dad’s 10 year old Land Rover.
    Pops had a warranty and makes six figures . Juniors up a creek, because he can’t afford to fix it no matter how much overtime he works.

  • avatar
    dwford

    We built this huge infrastructure during the golden years after WWII when we were flush with cash, now we find that with a huge welfare state to support, we can’t afford to maintain it all. Back of the napkin solution: take the social welfare money and direct it to infrastructure and hire those under employed welfare recipients to do the work. (I know it’s not exactly that simple)

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Good luck getting any kind of physical work from today’s <30s*.

      I was a puss compared to my old man but a 20 year-old me would today be a wolf among blancmanges.

      *except for Flyover kids who go military

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        Ha, so true. My 20 something has 1 good day a year where he will chop wood for 8 hours straight. The other 364 days taking out the garbage is too much to handle.

    • 0 avatar
      cartunez

      Sorry dwford but the money the US actually spends on social programs wouldn’t but enough to repair a 20 mile stretch of Highway. I don’t count Social Security or any other program they have a specific wage tax for as a social program.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        I’m aware we need $trillions to get it all repaired, but since we are spending money, we might as well get some work for it.

        Here in my city in CT we are spending $4.5m to extend a bike trail (BIKE TRAIL!!!) a whopping 4000 feet. Not even a mile for a bike trail costs $4.5m apparently.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnster

      We had much higher income tax rates during the golden years after WWII. Kennedy cut taxes and it spurred economic growth. Reagan cut taxes and it spurred growth, but also helped create record deficits and we’ve never recovered.

      I think we need to raise taxes back to the levels they were when the economy was running smoother.

    • 0 avatar
      jthorner

      We also had a top marginal federal tax bracket of 91% in 1959. Back then having the highest income people put a ton of money back into society by way of the government was considered good and normal. Republican Dwight Eisenhower added a national fuel tax on top of that in order to fund the Interstate Highway System, which was built as much to provide infrastructure for the nations defense as it was to provide a means for business and leisure travel (it also cut the knees out from under the rail monopolies). Since that time Republican orthodoxy has gone all in for the concept of lower taxes are always a good thing. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      dwford…

      Which welfare recipients are you referring to? I am all for a re-check of **EVERY** individual collecting disability checks monthly in this country. Half of WV and the remaining residents of Appalachia would have to get a job. I am willing to bet half of all disability recipients in this country are full of it and can work. They are just too lazy to participate.
      Or are you referring to the entitlement receivers as welfare? I have been telling my 76 year old mom to get off her a$$ and get back to work to no avail. Lazy old lady.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Ain’t gonna be easy. Not when the average person thinks income taxes are “incredibly high” even though the US is in the bottom third (worldwide) for total tax rate.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    …and yet people are still asking to shrink the government.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    We could always just throw money at the problem.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    “The United States is in a pretty bad spot.”
    Citation requested. Quick; look up a chart of per capita GDP of several nations over time. Join me in a nonconcerned shrug and enjoy a coffee.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Exactly.

      “The dissonance between gloomy rhetoric and recent performance is greatest on the economy. America’s recovery is now the fourth-longest on record, the stockmarket is at an all-time high, unemployment is below 5% and real median wages are at last starting to rise. There are genuine problems, particularly high inequality and the plight of low-skilled workers left behind by globalisation. But these have festered for years. They cannot explain the sudden fury in American politics.”
      http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21702188-donald-trumps-nomination-cleveland-will-put-thriving-country-risk-great

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Why fix infrastructure in a dying area? The USA knows how to let ghost towns DIE. We also know how to remodel what can be saved.

    Canadians also know how to do the same thing.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    The solution is simple and it’s already been proven in the past. It requires the government kicking out the ((((bankers))) and taking over the creation of money, interest free. A national program to build and rebuild all infrastructure, including all highways, bi-ways, bridges, tunnels, airports…replace all rail with high-speed rail, maglevs, and hyperloops. It would also require the introduction of Tesla free energy and, it actually pains me to say this, the end of gas/diesel engines (since electricity would be free…no need for gas or diesel). Everyone would be employed, and that would make America great again.

    The problem is, (((those))) in power would not allow it. Hence, we need a leader who will round them up and throw them in the pits.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Wow. If you understood economics any less, Paul Krugman would be out of a job.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Comment of the day!

      • 0 avatar
        GeneralMalaise

        +10… Funny stuff!!!

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Paul Krugman earned his B.A. summa cum laude in economics from Yale University and his PhD in economics from MIT. That is an impressive education.

        Instead of calling him unable to understand economics, maybe you meant “disagrees with me.”

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          Maybe it isn’t a coincidence that US management has been among the world’s worst for the past four decades. They’ve all been drinking from the same poisoned chalice.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “OK, markf,
            You must be pretty well educated in economics to say that someone from MIT’s economics program (easily one of the top 5 on the planet) is uneducated.

            Please share with us your educational background since you appear to be claiming it is superior.”

            I never said my training was “superior” you said that. I never said Krugman was uneducated, you said that.

            I simply said being credentialed is not the same as being educated.

            Krugamn has never been right on anything because he is a left wing hack and for him politics Trump economics……..

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          Credentialed is not the same as educated…..

          “I predict that in the years ahead Enron, not Sept. 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society. ”

          http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/29/opinion/the-great-divide.html

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            OK, markf,
            You must be pretty well educated in economics to say that someone from MIT’s economics program (easily one of the top 5 on the planet) is uneducated.

            Please share with us your educational background since you appear to be claiming it is superior.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            We get it. You’re impressed by the institutions that take our best and turn them into the laughingstocks of the universe. Read what John Maynard Keynes had to say about the end game of Keynesian economics. Anyone that thinks it is a prescription for anything other than returning the serfs to their bonds is a fool.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Keynes detested labor unions and he wanted to keep people working because he feared that high unemployment and economic troubles would help the then-socialist Labour party.

            I would bet that Newsmax didn’t inform you of that.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            Thanks for the link. It was an opinion piece distinguishing Sept 11 where the U.S. was the victim, and Enron, where we were the perpetrators. He felt “doing wrong” would have a greater impact on future social policy than “being a victim.” It’s his opinion, and we are free to disagree.

            Given that increased security and spying on Americans emerged from 9/11, and that bankers have kind of escaped prosecution, I d say Krugman was wrong.

            Regardless, there’s no doubt in my mind he knows more about economics than I do. He’s more than well credentialed; he teaches at Princeton and is a Nobel Laureate:

            http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/paul-krugman-wins-economics-nobel/

  • avatar
    Pete Kohalmi

    I’m a civil engineer specializing in transportation (roads and bridges). When I started in my field in 1996, the federal gas tax was 18.4 cents per gallon. A quick Google search shows that Americans drove 2.4 trillion miles per year and new cars got about 28 MPG back then. Today, Americans drive about 3.1 trillion miles and new cars get about 36 MPG. The gas tax is still 18.4 cents per gallon even though the value of a dollar has decreased by about 1/3. The math is simple.

    Most of our infrastructure was built 50 to 75 years ago. Coincidentally, that is the lifespan of a road or bridge before it needs to be completely rebuilt.

    When Americans decide to make infrastructure a priority, we will have a decent system. Until then, it’s going to continue to crumble. And that includes water, sewer, dams, airports, ports, dams etc…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I completely agree.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        Except that if you look at any construction projection the last 20 years it takes forever and a day. The Empire State building went up in 410 days, the “Freedom Tower” debacle took what, 12 years?

        The sad fact is America is incapable of fixing or building anything. The Hoover Damn could never be built in 2016. The environmentalist would (and do) have a project like that tied up in the courts for decades.

        Snail Darter anyone?

        • 0 avatar
          Pete Kohalmi

          It is much more simple to construct something from scratch than it is to reconstruct it–all the while keeping traffic moving and keeping utilities buried underneath it in service.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    I was impressed with the quick repair of the damage caused by the ’94 quake in SoCal. Much less impressed with how long it took up here in NorCal to repair after Loma Prieta in ’89.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    People don’t like to hear it, but the only systemic way to fix this very serious problem is to tax and spend. Thirty years of “the only thing we should spend money on is the DOD” messaging from a portion of the political spectrum has brought us to where we are. Well that and the fact that a lot of people want the benefits of public services, but don’t want to pay for them. Corruption and inefficiency are indeed real problems, but you can’t fix those by simply “starving the beast” as is the popular prescription.

  • avatar
    former_reader

    Feels a lot like trolololing for clicks and comments to me. Maybe I’ll check this site half as often (10 times a day instead of 20).

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    This topic is much like a bomb ready to explode. Here is a topic that demands political discussion, followed by a topic which essentially demands suppression of political discussion on TTAC.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    36% of highway trust fund money goes to supporting mass-transit and bike paths that support 2% of the traffic. New highways, airports, railways, and port projects must all be approved by EPA (and any State regulatory agencies) for environmental impact, which takes years and costs millions of dollars in consulting and legal fees – which is why Obama found out there were no ‘shovel ready’ projects to spend his stimulus money on. Projects are forced to pay ‘prevailing’ wages = union wages for all actual construction work, and set aside some work for minority contractors – all of which inflates building costs. The good news is that roads, bridges, and other transport infrastructure are actually in better shape than most reports indicate, because the authors of most infrastructure reports are engineers and consultants that get their bread buttered from infrastructure spending, and hence has lots of incentive to make things worse than they are. There is plenty of money to fix what needs fixing, its just that it doesn’t get spent efficiently or in the right places to do the most good – in other words typical government performance.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    It is good to see that the new commenting policies are working. I think it is time for me to fade away again.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Looking at the headline picture, isn’t the answer obvious? Stop having earthquakes! :D

  • avatar
    Highway27

    It’s probably too late for anyone to see this comment, but specifically about the “Our roadway infrastructure is failing!!!!” issue… no, it isn’t. Want to talk about bridges? In 1992, 22% of bridges were structurally deficient. By 2012, that number was 11% of bridges. And that’s with *increasing* the number of bridges by 30,000 (from 572k to 607k) during that time. So we’ve cut the number of structurally deficient bridges in half over the past couple decades.

    It may seem like it from your windshield, but highway departments do not sit around on their asses and do nothing. They know about the state of their infrastructure. They know which bridges need replacing the most, and they prioritize the ones that need action. And despite the industry folks that push for it, I don’t think it would do much good to just pour a bunch of money into fixing infrastructure. Who’s going to design it? You need good survey, design and support to have usable plans for even repairs and replacements. You need good, experienced contractors to build it in a reasonable amount of time and money. And you need good individual workers to be able to build it. Right now there’s an equilibrium of all those parts. You dump a bunch of money in there, and maybe after a decade you’ve increased the number of good designers and contractors, but in the intervening period, you’re going to get a lot of utter crap designed and build and torn down and hopefully fixed. It’s not just an issue of dumping money on something, like some would have you believe.


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