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Der Spiegel mocks our power lines—they have a point

November 7, 2012
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Der Spiegel has a piece up about the U.S.A. on election eve, and makes a salient point in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:

The infrastructure in New York, New Jersey and New England was already in trouble long before the storm made landfall near Atlantic City. The power lines in Brooklyn and Queens, on Long Island and in New Jersey, in one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, are not underground, but are still installed along a fragile and confusing above-ground network supported by utility poles, the way they are in developing countries.

A 60-inch water main let go this morning in midtown, flooding Charles Street (pic from former CP editor Lee Gardner at left; nice Brew report here) . Another water main broke a few days ago and repairs to the months-old Monument Street sinkhole will not be completed before December 19, says the Department of Public Works, citing “heavy downpours over the recent months and additional sinkholes at the site.”

They are opening up faster than we can fill them.

So to recap: we have historically low interest rates, massive numbers of unemployed construction workers and virtually no effort to rebuild the roads, bridges, pipes, conduits, wires, tunnels and other stuff that made America the powerhouse it once was.

The Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. needs to spend more than $2 trillion to repair the infrastructure we have. Its report card for America’s infrastructure  gives our bridges a C, our dams and aviation a D and our drinking water—the stuff inside those crumbling 60-inch mains—a D-.