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Reuters' Jack Shafer rails against the phrase "our crumbling infrastructure" and the press'...

Reuters' Jack Shafer rails against the phrase "our crumbling infrastructure" and the press' all-too uncritical acceptance that hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars needs to be spent to repair it. The doom-mongering has been going on for decades, but as the Federal Highway Administration explains, bridges can be "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete" and still be perfectly safe.
Comments (29)
  • deercreekvols
    , contributor
    Comments (5145) | Send Message
     
    Reuters' Jack Shafer needs to take a tour of western New York to see how "structurally deficient" bridges are closed and deemed perfectly unsafe to use. I will personally take Mr. Shafer around the area and he can see firsthand that these bridges are closed to traffic. There must be a reason the state has put up barricades and established detours.
    Sitting in an glass office is far different from living in an area where steel bridges rust and corrode. Road salt may play a part, perhaps Mr. Shafer could comment on how this isn't the case.
    18 Feb 2013, 08:36 AM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (12726) | Send Message
     
    Nonetheless, he's right that we live in a world of incessant, never-ending media doom mongering, and it plays a big role in many regards in duping our gullible public on so many topics, economic and investment outlook being among them.
    18 Feb 2013, 09:00 AM Reply Like
  • Jake2992
    , contributor
    Comments (825) | Send Message
     
    Really infrastructure? Jack should pick a subject that does NOT have such massive national saftey and economic impacts. My guess is jack has absolutely no experience in the construction and engineering sector, nor a clue what has happened to infrastructure funding over the past 20 years.

     

    If Jack wanted to pick a trite issue that gets too much doom mongering he would have served us all better to address the idiotic "our national debt is crushing us" meme that gets repeated ad nauseum in the media with little regard to the current economic situation or historic extremes.
    18 Feb 2013, 11:18 AM Reply Like
  • Tschurin
    , contributor
    Comments (313) | Send Message
     
    Everyone has examples of work that needs to be done...Washington DC area supposedly has the worst traffic congestion in the nation and could definitely use some improvements. Still, the article is a valuable grain of salt to be taken with the siren call of the infrastructure crowd. They want to raid the public-piggy-bank [or what's left of it]; just think the cost overruns of Boston's "big dig" and multiply by a 1000.
    18 Feb 2013, 08:59 AM Reply Like
  • TakeFive
    , contributor
    Comments (5205) | Send Message
     
    Out west most projects have been coming in under budget, some significantly so. A lot of that has to do with costs being much lower. Apparently we had a recession.

     

    Not sure everyone else should suffer for the sins of Boston. Colorado is trying to all it can while costs are down. Others would rather wait for good times when costs are much higher. Whatever.
    18 Feb 2013, 11:10 AM Reply Like
  • The Geoffster
    , contributor
    Comments (4009) | Send Message
     
    When your politicians' priorities are rewarding campaign contributors, funding all other manner of parasites and filling the welfare roles, it's hard to fill the pot holes.
    18 Feb 2013, 09:08 AM Reply Like
  • TakeFive
    , contributor
    Comments (5205) | Send Message
     
    Obama has been calling for a boost to infrastructure spending for two years with no help from the other side. Is that the best excuse you can up with?
    18 Feb 2013, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • Jake2992
    , contributor
    Comments (825) | Send Message
     
    Republicans had no problem passing 3 massive infrastructure bills under Bush. It's only when Obama got in office that they saw an opportunity to block infrastructure investing, blame the President for slow economic growth, and then use the debt (that they ran up under Bush) to defend their shameful obstruction.
    18 Feb 2013, 12:27 PM Reply Like
  • The Geoffster
    , contributor
    Comments (4009) | Send Message
     
    All politicians sip from the same trough. Partisan gamesmanship is what you are complaining about. Both sides do it to gig the other. Both sides have been competing to see who can ruin the country first through profligacy.
    18 Feb 2013, 02:00 PM Reply Like
  • phxcrane
    , contributor
    Comments (415) | Send Message
     
    What happened to the trillion dollars he spent on shovel ready projects?
    18 Feb 2013, 08:36 PM Reply Like
  • TakeFive
    , contributor
    Comments (5205) | Send Message
     
    phxcrane.... see my comment below.
    If you're interested in Arizona see here: http://bit.ly/Vs33j3
    If you want info on Phoenix see here: http://1.usa.gov/YCBEZg
    18 Feb 2013, 08:49 PM Reply Like
  • Valley Boy
    , contributor
    Comments (2192) | Send Message
     
    Arizona has well maintained roads and bridges compared to California. There is even hardly any roadside litter in Arizona compared to California.
    California must have a 30 year backlog of projects which need to be constructed. The roads have suffered decades of neglect while the politicians overspent on other areas of the state budget.
    But fortunately there are a lot of rail- and- street bridge separation projects now being built over and under the railroads going east out of Los Angeles toward Arizona. That ought to help Arizona's economy especially now that there are higher taxes in California.
    19 Feb 2013, 04:00 PM Reply Like
  • Closet Iguana
    , contributor
    Comments (159) | Send Message
     
    How many million more cars do you think there are in California? That has to count for something. As for littering; when you have x million more people a very small percentage of those people will be idiots, It doesn't take much to make the streets look like hell, But the real issue is would an infrastructure infusion of spending get more people working? I think it would but I'm not so sure it's necessary at this point That said, Japan did little to fix it's economy expecting it to fix itself and it dragged on for two decades. Only now are there signs of improvement. Long story short it's not an easy answer for even for professionals.
    19 Feb 2013, 08:31 PM Reply Like
  • Valley Boy
    , contributor
    Comments (2192) | Send Message
     
    It depends on the financial viability of the infrastructure project whether or not it will put people to work and keep them working. The projects being done on the rail corridors have obvious advantageous cost- benefit ratios because they will enable safer and speedier transshipment of goods hauled by rail from the seaports through the Los Angeles metropolitan area eastward to Las Vegas and Phoenix. A lot of bang for the buck. The metropolitan area is currently congested along the railroads because of the heavy car traffic interfering with the railroad traffic and vice versa.
    Arizona has chosen to spend a greater emphasis on improving, maintaining and cleaning its roads than California does. And it shows. Any visitor from California can easily notice that.
    19 Feb 2013, 10:33 PM Reply Like
  • TakeFive
    , contributor
    Comments (5205) | Send Message
     
    Valley... I've seen this play before.

     

    Phoenix Metro played catch-up for a couple of decades but with a five-tenths cent dedicated sales tax now into its 2nd 20 year run, they've caught up and have nice, fresh, up-to-date freeways.

     

    Couple that with a Great Recession and you have freeways that move pretty well. THAT WILL CHANGE.

     

    Built on basically the same model of sprawl as Los Angeles within in a decade, freeways will become parking lots once again.

     

    Contrast that with Salt Lake City or Denver, both cities have/are building very good transit and only a decade or two will tell.... I do know that there are cranes all over, in and around, downtown Denver with more scheduled so it's clear what has attracted capital flows.

     

    I leave the obsessing over Cali. to others.
    20 Feb 2013, 02:10 AM Reply Like
  • Valley Boy
    , contributor
    Comments (2192) | Send Message
     
    The Phoenix Business Journal reports that 50,000 Californians moved to Arizona in 2011. The real estate folks can figure out where to put them.
    Phoenix appears to have plenty of room to build up along the light rail routes (but not near the airport) instead of just sprawling outward.
    20 Feb 2013, 04:17 AM Reply Like
  • TakeFive
    , contributor
    Comments (5205) | Send Message
     
    Vally.... meh, saw several pieces of 'residents moving' but only one article that articulated the changes both coming and going. Cali was net positive for Arizona where most states including Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas were net negative.

     

    So if 41,000 residents moved from Arizona to Cali, then that would be net positive 9,000 but I don't recall the actual number. I think I might have read the "net" article in the Phx. Bus. Journal but not sure.

     

    There is some energy for infill but the metro area is so many competing entities. The southeast b/c of Chandler and Mesa's airport are committed to growing. The SW, which is your new warehouse/distribution star along with the new 303 will grow. Lastly before long Desert Ridge and the large tracts of land nearby will have activity.
    20 Feb 2013, 07:35 AM Reply Like
  • Valley Boy
    , contributor
    Comments (2192) | Send Message
     
    The Public Information Office at the Census Bureau can give the numbers. There are a lot of migration flow tables linked with this webpage:
    http://1.usa.gov/VvWXhD
    The most relevant table is the ACS State- to- State Migration Flows Table 2011 found at this link:
    http://1.usa.gov/Wanw9x
    The business article was telling only half of the story.
    The construction projects along the railroads going east from Los Angeles will speed up the rail cargo traffic moving from the harbors on the way to Yuma, Goodyear and industrial southwest Phoenix when they get completed.
    20 Feb 2013, 11:27 AM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (3980) | Send Message
     
    I think the finest example of "crumbling infrastructure" has been the well publicized deficiencies of our air-traffic control systems (although my understanding is at least that issue is finally being addressed).

     

    More significant is the fact that for most global travelers, it is clear the US is 'aging'... because most other countries built their infrastructure much after the US, or are doing so now.

     

    Also of value is the notion that the world has changed since the US infrastructure was first put into place, and that the current infrastructure of the US is no longer appropriate to meet the needs of its citizens or for the country's future. The 'smart grid' comes to mind in particular, but efforts in that direction are heavily private in origin right now.

     

    The Reuters post reminds me of "damned if you do damned if you don't" type rhetoric where the writer will complain if the initiative is undertaken and will complain again when the infrastructure fails beneath his feet.

     

    The crux of his complaint - and the only point he ever really makes - seems to be in the line where he says - against all the tremendous evidence of the stimulative nature of infrastructure investment - that "as with most government projects, somebody always ends up paying for more than they consume." Which he asserts as a truism.

     

    Empty rhetoric.
    18 Feb 2013, 09:38 AM Reply Like
  • Archman Investor
    , contributor
    Comments (2351) | Send Message
     
    "The doom-mongering has been going on for decades, but as the Federal Highway Administration explains, bridges can be "structurally deficient" or "functionally obsolete" but still be perfectly safe."

     

    Yeah sure...until they are not.
    18 Feb 2013, 09:59 AM Reply Like
  • Jake2992
    , contributor
    Comments (825) | Send Message
     
    Haven't you heard about the new Jack Shafer bridge classification scheme? Only classify bridges as dangerous after they've fallen.
    18 Feb 2013, 12:02 PM Reply Like
  • Uncle Pie
    , contributor
    Comments (2675) | Send Message
     
    "perfectly safe"? like the bridge in Minneapolis that fell into the river?

     

    In Europe and Japan, there are trains which go 250 mph. In the US, you take the train from Washington, DC to Boston, it takes about the same amount of time it took in 1940. Only in 1940 you could go to the dining car and get a nice dinner.

     

    Meanwhile, the US spends more money on weapons than all the other nations on earth, COMBINED. And the politicians are talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, even as they plan to spend $1 Trillion on the F35 fighter bomber over the next decade, when we can already nuke anyplace on earth with our intercontinental ballistic missiles, our submarine launched missiles, or our stealth bombers. Hello???
    18 Feb 2013, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • Jake2992
    , contributor
    Comments (825) | Send Message
     
    Exactly. Of all the places Jack@ss could have pointed to in the government for waste or media for doom mongering, he picks infrastructure. An area that a)creates jobs and economic activity b) makes communities safer c) improves chances for foreign investment. As if our government's problem is that it makes too many smart investments and not enough dumb ones. right....
    18 Feb 2013, 11:21 AM Reply Like
  • The Rebel
    , contributor
    Comments (428) | Send Message
     
    The government has spent trillions of our money over the past decade. Much of this money was spent on infrastructure. Much of this money went down a rathole, doled out to Democrat mayors and their lackeys. What do we have to show for it? More cries for more money. The states are responsible for infrastructure that is not part of the federal highway system. What are these blue states doing with all their tax revenue? It's not being spent on infrastructure, that's for sure. Until this changes, and until a system is set up whereby any monies appropriated for infrastructure are accounted for down to the last dollar, I say no more federal infrastructure appropriations.
    18 Feb 2013, 01:09 PM Reply Like
  • kcr357
    , contributor
    Comments (557) | Send Message
     
    MN was a design flaw in the bridge itself, not neglect/old age/deterioration.
    18 Feb 2013, 03:30 PM Reply Like
  • coelacanth10
    , contributor
    Comments (67) | Send Message
     
    My problem is that infrastructure was supposed to be addressed in the 800 billion dollar stimulus of 2009, the famous shovel-ready stimulus, but most of that money went to the states to maintain the bureaucracy of state employees which does nothing to improve infrastructure. Since then, the continuing resolution in the Senate has produced a similar source of funding for three more years, yet where are the shovel-ready jobs? One become suspicious that money from the feds will never reach the place where infrastructure actually benefits.
    18 Feb 2013, 06:51 PM Reply Like
  • TakeFive
    , contributor
    Comments (5205) | Send Message
     
    coelacanth..... I can emphasize. Because "shovel ready" ended up being used as a political talking point so only a few, I think, understood the Stimulus.

     

    With respect to infrastructure ie. roads, bridges, transit and misc. $120 billion was designated for this. The money was indeed used for what was intended as the "rules" accounted for such. Each state was also required to make available the specifics of how the money was spent. The two states that I'm familiar with both had the information posted on the internet.

     

    Not sure what state you're in but most states maintain a Department of Transportation and their internet sites detail projects and the federal assistance involved. Same is true of most larger cities.

     

    There were other infrastructure projects that resulted which came through different agencies like Interior or Energy etc. Many states had water, sewer and sanitation projects they were able to take advantage of.

     

    There was also a significant extension for the availability of broadband access in more rural areas. There was assistance for purchasing communication equipment for fire and police.

     

    That's a few things off the top of my head.
    18 Feb 2013, 07:51 PM Reply Like
  • Closet Iguana
    , contributor
    Comments (159) | Send Message
     
    How about simply limiting upgrades to bridges that are in the vicinity of Jack Shafer's home.
    18 Feb 2013, 06:33 PM Reply Like
  • KJP712
    , contributor
    Comments (437) | Send Message
     
    When you are traveling at 13000 feet up in the air,all roads and bridges look great.
    19 Feb 2013, 12:07 AM Reply Like
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