Want to empty the room at a party? Start talking about “our nation’s infrastructure.”
So don’t do it that way – do it this way:
Ask your friends if they’ve heard the one about the big chunks of concrete falling from a bridge onto commuter rail tracks in Boston.
Or about those 100+ bridges finally closed now in Mississippi, because they haven’t been safe for years.
Or that bridge in Minnesota that wasn’t just in need of repair, it collapsed, and 13 people died.
Then tell them that they might have driven over a bridge, just like those bridges, just this morning – because those “infrastructure” problems show up in every one of the 50 states. And it isn’t just bridges. Infrastructure also includes roads and tunnels, trains and airports, the schools our kids go to, our energy grid and more. And none of it is in good shape.
The American Society of Civil Engineers writes up a report card on the condition of the country’s infrastructure (and they are the ones who work on these things, so they should know). Our grade last year? D+.
(You can read it here. You can also look up the condition of bridges, roads, and all the rest in your own state. Just brace yourself first.)
And this is a good time to do it, because this week is National Infrastructure Week.
Now why have we got something to say about this?
Well, we ARE part of the solution. From petroleum, comes asphalt – and from asphalt comes roads that get us where we want to go, instead of roads that beat up our cars.
More than that though, infrastructure might seem invisible day to day – but it’s the glue that holds everything together, for all of us. And like glue, when it doesn’t work – the consequences sure aren’t invisible, to all of us.
To make that asphalt, and get it where it needs to go – to make gasoline and diesel and jet fuel – to make the petrochemicals that go into the plastics that go into every aspect of our everyday lives – that also depends on roads and bridges, train tracks and airports, and most of the rest of that infrastructure. All those things we all depend on, depend on infrastructure.
So take a moment during National Infrastructure Week, to think about the state of our infrastructure. Serious? Yes. Fixable? Also yes. In fact, one section of that Civil Engineers’ report card is all about solutions. And you can find that good news here.