AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE

* The U.S. population has more than doubled since the 1960s, when most of the country’s major infrastructure systems were designed. Many are reaching the end of their lifespan, and are dangerously overstretched.

* The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has compiled regular “report cards” on the state of the U.S. infrastructure since the 1980s. In its 2021 report, the ASCE found that the nation’s infrastructure averaged a “C-” up from a “D+” in 2017 and the highest grade in twenty years. Still, the group estimated that there is an “infrastructure investment gap” of nearly $2.6 trillion that if unaddressed, could cost the U.S. $10 trillion in lost GDP by 2039. Other analysts agree that the shortfall is large. McKinsey researchers say that $150 billion per year will be required between 2017 and 2030 to keep abreast of all the country’s infrastructure needs.

* Transportation will require the largest chunk of funding needs. The U.S. Government Accountability Office finds that nearly one in four bridges are deficient, with 10% categorized as structurally deficient and 14% categorized as functionally obsolete.

* While America’s airports carry the most passengers of any country in the world , its aviation infrastructure is also overburdened with some 20%¬† of all arrivals and departures delayed in 2019; according to the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

* The country’s rail systems are a mixed bag. U.S. commercial rail , a large portion of which is owned by the private freight industry, is among the most developed in the world, moving nearly 40% of the nation’s goods. At the same time, the focus on freight rail has relegated passenger rail to a lower priority. Amtrak, the United States’ main provider of intercity passengers rail, has more than doubled its $30 billion in backlog of infrastructure investments.

* The country’s water and energy systems are under stress. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that drinking water, the wastewater, and irrigation systems will require $632 billion in additional investment over the next decade. Ports and waterways, which handle over one-fourth of the country’s freight transport, face mounting delays.

* The operators of the U.S. electrical grid are struggling to make the neccessary investments, and increasing power outages are costing the economy billons of dollars.

* Meanwhile, experts warn of the “broadband gap” in which rural and low-income communities suffer from a lack of infrastructure to deliver reliable, fast¬†internet, referred to as broadband. A 2020 Federal Communications Commission report finds that some 18 million Americans, the majority of whom live in rural areas, lack access to any broadband network. Other estimates suggest that more than twice as many people lack access. Governors of both major parties identify internet access as a priority in their states, and propose plans costing tens of millions of dollars.

HOW DO WE COMPARE INTERNATIONALLY?

* The U.S. generally lags behind its peers in the developed world. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, in 2019, the U.S ranked thirteenth in the world in a broad measure of infrastructure quality; down from fifth place in 2002. That places it behind countries including France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

NO COMMON SENSE

ANALYZE THE EXAMPLE

* Which supports and barriers were in play?

* What were the dynamics?

* Who, or what, won the Tug-of-War?

* Discuss the outcome with your friends and family.

* Use Post #4 as a reference for the dynamics, and the relationships, between supports and barriers.