From rough roads to dangerous bridges and broken sidewalks, America’s infrastructure is showing its age.Some people expect a sudden end of the world event, worthy of Hollywood where it conveniently unfolds within one hour and thirty minutes. In reality is a slow grinding process. The power and water grid, roads, gas lines, communications, transportation, even bridges and tunnels, it all requires constant maintenance. When the infrastructure is as massive as it is in America, it is already hard to keep up with it in normal times. When combined with the limitations of an economic crisis, you do end up having serious problems down the road. Its very difficult to keep the grid in shape and it can be downright impossible when the money simply isn’t there. All you can do is run around patching it up as it crumbles, within your limited resources.
And while we can’t see it, deep underground, the country’s network of water pipes is aging too. It’s a growing problem that’s causing huge water main breaks across the country.
Fixing the problem isn’t easy or cheap, CBS News’ Brandon Scott reports.
When one water main ruptured in July, it looked like the scene from a summer blockbuster, with a sky-high geyser blasting through a giant crater in Los Angeles’ famous Sunset Boulevard.
Twenty million gallons of water poured into the street, flooding the nearby UCLA campus.
Then, just two weeks ago in West Hollywood, another pipe burst, turning the iconic Sunset Strip into a raging river.
It was the latest high-profile rupture in America’s second-largest city, which every day averages three water main breaks.
“It’s critical that we have pipe that can handle the loads that we put on it,” said Jeff Bray, a superintendent with LA’s water department.
His crew is trying to get ahead of the problem by replacing aging pipelines before they break.
The new pipes are made of welded steel and lined in cement. Once one is connected, it will handle a water flow of 51 million gallons every day
“With our budget the way it currently is, we’re on a 300-year cycle to replace the smaller pipes,” Bray said. “It’s not fast enough.”
But Los Angeles isn’t alone. In Oklahoma, a summer water main break flooded a Tulsa road, leaving resident Cassie Hill stranded. ….
Water supply problems, more frequent blackouts, broken roads, and a general lack of maintenance of public infrastructure is to be expected in the years to come. Services will also go through a similar degradation, expect less (and worse) public services, not enough cops on the streets, slower response time for medical and fire emergencies.
The degradation is physical as it is social and cultural. Schools will suffer a similar fate, with public schools showing a clear lack of maintenance while private schools or schools in high end neighborhoods being better taken care of. As funds simply aren’t enough, efforts will be focused on keeping the nicer areas afloat while letting the lower class sectors drop further down the socioeconomic ladder. An economic crisis isnt a matter of years, it’s a matter of decades. It’s a matter of entire generations suffering the consequences. In a country as large as the United States some States and some counties will fare better than others depending on how bad the situation was pre-economic crisis times and how much funds they currently have, but I believe it’s important to know what to look for and understand what’s going on, why this is happening and therefore prepare better for it.