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21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind

You can tell a lot about a nation by the condition of the infrastructure.  So what does our infrastructure say about us?  It says that we are in a very advanced state of decay.  At this point, much of America is being held together with spit, duct tape and prayers.  Our roads are crumbling and thousands of our bridges look like they could collapse at any moment.  Our power grid is ancient and over a trillion gallons of untreated sewage is leaking from our aging sewer systems each year.  Our airports and our seaports are clogged with far more traffic than they were ever designed to carry.  Approximately a third of all of the dam failures that have taken place in the United States since 1874 have happened during the past decade.  Our national parks and recreation areas have been terribly neglected and our railroads are a bad joke.  Hurricane Katrina showed how vulnerable our levees are, and drinking water systems all over the country are badly outdated.  Sadly, at a time when we could use significant new investment in infrastructure, our spending on infrastructure is actually way down.  Back during the 50s and the 60s, the U.S. was spending between 3 and 4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Today, that figure is down to about 2.4 percent.  But of course we don't have any extra money to spend on infrastructure because of our reckless spending and because of the massive amount of debt that we have accumulated.  While the Obama administration is spending more than half a million dollars to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop, our national infrastructure is literally falling apart all around us.  Once upon a time nobody else on the planet could match our infrastructure, and now we are in the process of becoming a joke to the rest of the world.

The following are 21 facts about America's failing infrastructure that will blow your mind....

#1 The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America's crumbling infrastructure an overall grade of D.

#2 There are simply not enough roads in the United States today.  Each year, traffic jams cost the commuters of America 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline.

#3 It is being projected that Americans will spend an average of 160 hours stuck in traffic annually by the year 2035.

#4 Approximately one-third of all roads in the United States are in substandard condition.

#5 Close to a third of all highway fatalities are due "to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards."

#6 One out of every four bridges in America either carries more traffic than originally intended or is in need of repair.

#7 Repairing all of the bridges in the United States that need repair would take approximately 140 billion dollars.

#8 According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, our decaying transportation system costs the U.S. economy about 78 billion dollars annually in lost time and fuel.

#9 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel roads because they are cheaper to maintain.  The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt roads into gravel roads, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.

#10 There are 4,095 dams in the United States that are at risk of failure.  That number has risen by more than 100 percent since 1999.

#11 Of all the dam failures that have happened in the United States since 1874, a third of them have happened during the past decade.

#12 Close to half of all U.S. households do not have access to bus or rail transit.

#13 Our aging sewer systems spill more than a trillion gallons of untreated sewage every single year.  The cost of cleaning up that sewage each year is estimated to be greater than 50 billion dollars.

#14 It is estimated that rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost the U.S. economy approximately 80 billion dollars a year.

#15 It is being projected that by the year 2020 every single major container port in the United States will be handling at least double the volume that it was originally designed to handle.

#16 All across the United States, conditions at many of our state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best.  Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long....

More than a dozen states estimate that their backlogs are at least $100 million. Massachusetts and New York's are at least $1 billion. Hawaii officials called park conditions "deplorable" in a December report asking for $50 million per year for five years to tackle a $240 million backlog that covers parks, trails and harbors.

#17 Today, the U.S. spends about 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure.  Meanwhile, China spends about 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure.

#18 In the United States today, approximately 16 percent of our construction workers are unemployed.

#19 China has plans to build 55,000 miles of highways by the year 2020.  If all of those roads were put end to end, it would be longer than the total length of the entire U.S. interstate system.

#20 The World Economic Forum ranks U.S. infrastructure 23rd in the world, and we fall a little bit farther behind the rest of the developed world every single day.

#21 It has been projected that it would take 2.2 trillion dollars over the next 5 years just to repair our existing infrastructure.  That does not even include a single penny for badly needed new infrastructure.

So where did we go wrong?

Well, one of the big problems is that we have become a very materialistic society that is obsessed with short-term thinking.  Investing in infrastructure is something that has long-term benefits, but these days Americans tend to only be focused on what is happening right now and most politicians are only focused on the next election cycle.

Another major problem is that there is so much corruption and waste in our system these days.  The government certainly spends more than enough money, but very little of that money is spent wisely.  A lot of the money that could be going toward rebuilding our infrastructure is being poured down the toilet instead.  For much more on this, please read my previous article entitled "16 Sickening Facts That Show How Members Of Congress And Federal Workers Are Living The High Life At Your Expense".

Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.

We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.

We are a complete and total mess.  So why shouldn't what is happening to our infrastructure on the outside match what is happening to us as a nation on the inside?

And sadly, we simply do not have the money that we need for infrastructure because of all the debt that we have piled up.  The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are all struggling to stay afloat in an ocean of red ink, and unfortunately that means that spending on infrastructure is likely to be cut even more in the years ahead.

So get used to rotting, crumbling, decaying infrastructure.  What you see out there right now is only just the beginning.

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  • paul

    War costs brought down the Romans, defense spending and state security brought down the Soviets and war on terror and homeland security will kill America.

  • Berferd

    Perhaps spending $770 Million to upgrade Cairo Egypt’s sewer system might be better spent right here in the US? Might even consider hiring private companies to do the work
    and not pay union theft scales? Get this socialist regime out and clear the way for reasonable American know-how…get er done!

    • Michael

      Very good point about Egypt.

      Michael

      • http://itsafluffy.blogspot.com DL.

        And did you know that American taxpayers pay more in taxes to Israel than Israeli taxpayers? Please don’t call me an “anti-Semite”, Michael, for speaking the truth. Okay, I’ll shut up now.

  • Jack London

    We give over 8 million dollars a day (per DAY, not per year!) to Israel alone. Millions more go out to other nations around the world. We send our military overseas to defend the borders of other nations but our gov’t refuses to defend our own borders.

    • http://itsafluffy.blogspot.com DL.

      Shush, Jack…Micheal might call you an anti-Semite!

  • Berferd

    One more thing, Jar Binks is in need of serious medical assistance or perhaps a progressive intervention.
    Bill Clinton left no surplus and any savings made in the latter part of his shameful presidency was
    thanks to Newt Gingrich and a Republican Congress. Jar, get some help soon!

  • jomer

    one of my Agenda 21 rants has been:

    how will they restrict human access to large portions of the country? Easy, just say we can’t afford to fix the rural roads and bridges, and close them down.. people in the out-lying area will be force to move into the cities.

  • Pingback: 21 Facts About America’s Decaying Infrastructure That Will Blow Your Mind :

  • Melia Sese

    In general agreement with most of the above, except one critical point: this notion that we cannot “afford” to fix this. Wrong – we can’t afford not to. As for this rotgut “we don’t have the money nonsense”, of course we do because with some 16% of construction workers unemployed there is ample capacity in the economy to take this up. Most of you (so-called “liberal” and “conservative” alike) have never been taught real economics, the system that exists for every country in the world today, which is based on fiat currency.

    The basic fact is that any currency-issuing government can issue as much as needed to see that the society is employed. Above we see there is plenty of work, with plenty of idle labor to do that work. Let’s get to it …

    BTW, if you dispute what I just wrote, fine, but come from a basis in reality not fantasy, which is what the mainstream economics profession is based on. They pretend we still have a gold (or commodity) based system, but that went away over 40 years ago in the US, and well before that elsewhere.

    So fire away, but keep in mind that with all of your precious notions about how things used to work, the nation is falling apart, literally. What do you intend to do about it?

  • http://www.gangarosa.com/navyseals.htm prepguy
    • nowwthen

      That is a valid point worth remembering. It’s easy to become fed up with Conressional “our party first above all else” gridlock and start to wish some sort of benevolent dictator had the power to set them all straight and get us back on track. But then you remember how that played out with Hitler.

      • 2epic2live

        What about Napoleon? Of France? He got France back on her feet!

  • Colin

    We used to have in this nation people like John Rockefeller who believed that they had a civic duty to their nation. In the Great Depression, he hired 40,000 people to build the Rockefeller Center. A center that he funded with his own money.

    We have a 1,000 billionaires in this nation. Imagine what they could do with their money and investments to rebuild this nation. Instead, they hoard both in off-shore accounts.

    The sense of civic duty that once was a passion of the wealthy has now faded into empty rhetoric. Ayn Rand prophesied that one day the wealthy would live in an enclave surrounded by a ruined America. With each passing day, we are one day closer to her prophecy coming true.

    • Kevin2

      Civic duty? John D Rockefeller?

      You got to be kidding me.

    • susy b

      couldnt have said it better myself. and they really dont give a s#$% either.

  • ALICE

    Put all of the entitled welfares to work for their benefits….If they have to work for their benefits, they’ll get off of the system voluntarily..

  • Washington

    Warrant-less Spying Bill Passes House, Moves to the Senate THURSDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2012

    http://www.rightsidenews.com/2012091417023/us/homeland-security/warrantless-spying-bill-passes-house-moves-to-the-senate.html

  • Winston

    So many incorrect statements or straight fallacies in the bloggers
    comments its hard to know where to start;
    Clinton did not leave a budget surplus.Accounting tricks.How come the debt kept increasing with a budget surplus ?
    The perverse accounting on capital projects means new infrastructure is
    incentivised with no thought for recurring maintenance costs.
    The money from future generations has already been spent in the super ponzi
    scheme we call America.
    The creditors are only being held at bay by the use of the Military,but the bill
    for past capital expenditure is now overdue.
    We are bankrupt.Nobody wants our long term bonds,that’s why the Federal Reserve
    is buying them all in Operation Twist.A Dead man walking.

    • Mondobeyondo

      Umm… according to what sources you believe, Clinton did leave a budget surplus, or he did not. (I tend to believe he did balance the budget between 1996 and 1999.) It doesn’t matter now anyways, because this country will never have a balanced budget again.

  • Cat

    As much as I should be inclined to agree with this article, being in an industry that would make lots of money rebuilding our nations infrastructure, I cannot. Look, we are a very large & very populated nation, there is no way that we could not have infrastructure problems, unless you totally ignored all other societal needs. It is inevitable that infrastructure will get old and need to be replaced. Just think of what the cost would be to maintain a grade of A. You would have to be replacing infrastructure as soon as it gets old enough and degraded enough to get a grade of B. I take issue with the American Society of Civil Engineers giving the U.S. a grade of D. Certainly anyone should be able to see that they just might have a biased opinion on the matter, seeing as how there membership is made up of Civil Engineers who are responsible for designing our infrastructure. Let’s take a look at another source. The World Economic Forum in 2011 ranked 139 countries infrastructure with a high score of 6.8, a low score of 2.0 and a mean of 4.3. The United States ranks #23 with a score of 5.8. As for our neighboring countries, Mexico is ranked #79 with a score of 3.9 and Canada is ranked #13 with a score of 6.0, just 0.2 points ahead of the U.S. As for some of our rival world powers, Russia is ranked #94 with a score of 3.6 and China is ranked #72 with a score of 4.1. Now I don’t see how the U.S. get a grade of D from the American Society of Civil Engineers considering these numbers.

    • susy b

      a c- would be acceptable at this point????

  • Mike

    A politician cares about the next election, but a statesman cares about the next generation, and the future of his people. Modern politics favor the politician. Politicians are bought and sold. To focus on infrastructure is to focus on the future, and most people will vote based on what they want *now*.

  • http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com Erick Tippett

    Now you know why the word democracy does not appear in the american ‘constitution’, why there were two civil wars(‘Shay’s Tax Rebellion’ in 1785 and the ‘Whiskey Rebellion’ of 1791-94 in which Mr. Washington in full military regalia commanding 13,500 troops came out of the white house to smash that ‘revolt’, why
    the constitutional convention was boycotted as illegally conducted, and to crown the point I’m making, why Adolph Hitler stated “The most wonderful thing for governments is that people don’t think!” and why Henry Ford stated that
    if the american public really understood
    how the banking system worked they would
    revolt the next day. No wonder there are
    over 261 millionaires in the national
    legislatures! It should be obvious as to
    why these conditions exist! It takes two to tango! Those who don’t learn from
    their history or are ignorant of it to be-
    gin with shall surely repeat it until total collapse ensues!

    EDT
    Chicago, Illinois

    • Alaskan

      To do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome is the definition of insanity

  • http://http//irishsavant.blogspot.com Irish Savant

    A friend of mine who had retired from ESB, the Irish national electricity grid provider, did a short assignment in Michigan. He expected the infrastructure there to be state-of-the-art. In fact he found it to be as Michael said, held together with string and tape. He was just staggered. And that was a few years back

  • Mondobeyondo
    • Mondobeyondo

      In the early 1930′s, there were no government assistance programs (Social Security was enacted in 1936, I think.)

      Okay, let’s hop into that Deleorean time machine and head back to the future! It’s 1932, and you have none of the government bennies you have today. Where would you be? If you were John D. Rockefeller, you wouldn’t care. But that’s beside the point…

      - 46 million Americans rely on food stamps in 2012. There were no food stamps in 1932. Where would all these people be? Probably selling apples or something.
      - 1 out of 3 Americans rely on government assistance of one kind or another in 2012. Government assistance also did not exist in 1932.
      - In 1932, tent cities called “Hoovervilles”, and soup kitchens sprang up all over the country. Any evidence of that today? You can’t see it? You’re not looking hard enough. They’re called “EBT cards” these days. And a guy with his family knocked on my door asking if he could pick oranges from my tree. That was two years ago. I said, “have at it, dude, pick all you want”.

      It’s worse now.

    • Michael

      Very interesting link Mondo.

      Michael

  • Benny

    “Unfortunately, it is probably appropriate that our infrastructure is decaying because we are decaying in just about every other way that it is possible for a society to decay.

    We are decaying economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, physically, morally and spiritually.”

    Excellent point, Michael. Truer words were never spoken. However, you left out a few. See the below quote from a recent article by Paul Craig Roberts:

    “The United States has collapsed economically, socially, politically, legally, constitutionally, and environmentally. The country that exists today is not even a shell of the country into which I was born.”

    So, to combine your words and his, we have collapsed economically, politically, mentally, emotionally, morally, spiritually, socially, physically, environmentally, legally and constitutionally.

    There is no hope for us, Michael. No hope, whatsoever. :(

  • http://itsafluffy.blogspot.com DL.

    You folks on here DO REALIZE, DON’T YOU, that the tax dollars we are forced to pay are NOT to the government! The IRS IS THE COLLECTION AGENCY FOR THE PRIVATELY OWNED FEDERAL RESERVE BANK, and our tax dollars go to the FEDERAL RESERVE BANK, who LENDS (not gives, but lends) the money we are forced to give it–I repeat, LENDS, AT INTEREST– to the Federal government, who MUST PAY THIS (worthless fiat currency) back at interest to the PRIVATELY OWNED FEDERAL RESERVE BANK. Since the government (or we the people if you still believe that delusion) cannot spend any money it gets at its own discretion because it must spend money on other stuff (like war for instance, to steal resources), then how do you expect the government to spend this money on infrastructure? It’ll be interesting to find out (if a “conspiracy thoerist” martial law scenario ever occurs) how this will affect the movement of martial law materiel. But then again I’ll never accuse the criminal psychopathic elites of being very smart. It’ll be interesting to see if any of their 30,000 drones mess up martial law air traffic!

  • Jacket and Fez

    What bothers me most is how many people here are buying into the two-party ideology, one blaming the other.

    Both are equally evil, both are doing a fine job tearing civilian life apart. And by buying into the old “you’re on one side or the other” argument, you continue to support this process, which is as Michael describes.

    Both Bill Clinton and George W Bush were sleezebags. One is not better than the other; both are equally unfit. But as long as you rally against “them” (which happens to be the other half of the public), while supporting your antiquated political party platforms, you continue to destroy what little public life is left.

    I have friends and family on both sides of the political spectrum. But based on what I keep reading here in the comments section, no-one would be able to tolerate me for long if they met me – because I don’t conform to this “bifurcated” group mind think.

    Stop seeing the world as “right left” and see it as “alive dead”. See your neighbor as “another person” instead of “another statistic”. Give it a try. You might like what you find.

  • Mondobeyondo

    There was also a depression in the U.S. from 1920-21 (there was a “flash crash” of the stock market in 1920, and things rapidly went downhill economically, for a few months.) This article from 247Bull sheds some light on it…

    http://www.247bull.com/the-forgotten-depression-of-the-1920s-what-it-teaches-us/

    There was also a financial crisis in 1873. But no one remembers that one, or the Panic of 1907. It’s the biggie, the Great Depression, that everyone remembers.

    P.S. We are in a depression right now. Deny it all you want.

  • TtT Engine

    Remember the BIG GOVERNMENT LIE, that once the road and/or bridge was paid for, it would become a “freeway” ? The Tappan Zee Bridge connects NJ and NY and spans the Hudson River north of NYC. The bridge is unsafe, it’s 50 year useful life has expired and the bridge needs to be replaced. Of, course, bankrupt BIG GOVERNMENT, spent all the 50 years of toll/tax money on BIG GOVERNMENT salaries and pensions. Now because bankrupt BIG GOVERNMENT does not have the $10-$15 billion dollars it did not save to replace the bridge, bankrupt BIG GOVERNMENT’S answer is to raise the bridge tax to $14, up from $5 and continue patching the broken bridge. Common sense answer, STAY OFF THE BIG BANKRUPT GOVERNMENT BRIDGE until the bridge is replaced. Imagine the utter joy of seeing no cars on that broken down bridge instead of the thousands of cars we see on the bridge each day ? Convert the power of our high frustration and anxiety into Red, White and Blue Power. Christi Fidelis !

  • Washington

    Detroit: A Dying City (The Red, White and Economic Blues)(Detroit’s Ghetto)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL_YdRxBhzI&feature=relmfu

  • VegasCarl

    “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

  • Washington

    Published on Apr 15, 2012  Man Who Lives In Detroit’s Abandoned Packard Plant Since 2005

    Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Detroit “ruin porn” is it inherently ignores the very real people who still live in the city. Now there’s a convergence — the amazing story of Allan Hill, the man who legally lives inside the city’s abandoned Packard Auto Plant. 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FOO0t5OEV4

    Change you can believe in!

  • susy b

    we in the middle of a huge bridge project. been going on for months. one side open and should be done by 11/16. it is a well known fact that this bridge was so bad that if they did not build a NEW ONE (no more repairs), it would be immediately closed and torn down. scary thought. so, it was basically a must as it connects a major highway and 2 cities. no clue as to the cost. but just an example…… nice huh…….

  • http://thegreatrecessionconspiracy.blogspot.com James Taylor

    I have a question. Is Malcolm a real person, or just an avatar created to annoy people who deal with facts and try to think seriously about important things?

  • Ajax

    I have a great idea. Let’s “Outsource” the management of the federal government to China. By doing so, we can avoid the embarrassment of out right surrender. Either way, it’s over for the U.S.

  • Steever

    The answer to this is simple.

    Just shove everyone into Agenda 21 style shoe-box houses and cities and restrict their ability to travel and you won’t need all that useless infrastructure and the expense of repairing it!

    Yes, of course that’s barely any form of a joke.
    But some people try to argue that the US is overpopulated, and they also try to say that those in favour of more infrastructure expenditure just want to see the landmass paved in concrete from sea to shining sea. They argue that less is more. And in some regards they are right. But only 6% of America’s landmass is developed, only 3% is urban, and 77% of Americans are already living in those urban areas!

    But I get the awful feeling that those who will win in the end are those arguing for ‘more less’ than ‘more more’ or even just plain better.

  • Steever

    It gives me great pleasure going on to YouTube and finding all those archival films about the development of US Infrastructure back in the 30′s – 60′s.

    Many of these films (certainly not all) were commissioned by GM for their Chevrolet division and filmed by the Jam Handy company.
    There is a certain feel in these films that modern attempts at film making can’t match. They ooze with Civic Pride, Company Pride, confidence, quiet patriotism, and all the while they manage to be informative and seem to state that the future will be the best future possible.

  • DDK

    Lets Point Fingers And Blame People Instead of Doing Somthing About it

  • Donald Nichols

    Look at the companys from other countrys that are involved in our infrastructure.THAT SUCKING SOUND IS COMING FROM THEM.

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