PUBLISHED MAY 2, 2019

US Infrastructure: Why it needs an overhaul

Beltway traffic
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The Story

The US’s infrastructure is saying ‘halp.’

And by infrastructure you mean…?

Roads, highways, and bridges, oh my. But also airports, power grids, public school buildings, transit systems, wastewater management, dams, and levees.

Why is it all saying ‘halp’?

US infrastructure has a lot of gray hairs. Most of it was built decades ago, and can’t handle a population that’s nearly doubled since the 1960s. Plus, there’s climate change, which has been tied to more extreme weather events like hurricanes and storms. Problem, because dams and levees are straining to manage intense flooding, which puts communities at risk and can lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

So you’re saying we need to get on this.

Yes. Every few years, the American Society of Civil Engineers grades US infrastructure. Right now, infrastructure has the shape of a D+ on its forehead. Here are some of the issues that come from repeatedly hitting ‘remind me later’ on infrastructure:

Public safety...It’s estimated that poor road designs and conditions contribute to thousands of deaths each year. Hundreds more reportedly die, get hurt, or fall ill each year due to failures with bridges, dams, and roads. Today, more than 47,000 bridges in the US are considered “structurally deficient.”

Whoa what?

That means they’re safe to use but need repairs.

Cool cool. What else?

The economy...loses more than $120 billion a year due to traffic delays. And $35 billion a year because of airport delays, in part due to infrastructure issues related to things like air traffic control, airport operations, and heavy traffic. Meanwhile, 19 million Americans – mainly in rural and lower-income areas – don’t have high-speed Internet.

Why isn’t the government addressing this?

It is...sort of. We get into that, why there’s been such a holdup, and the impact on you in theSkimm app. Every week, the app goes deep on a different news topic to give you the context you need to understand the headlines. Download the app now, and you get the first week free.

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