“Nothing will be spared, and budget cuts will be made across the board,” is the message coming from budget debates in Washington, D.C. and state capitols. Such a “time out,” if enacted, could wreak havoc not only on the future of this nation’s infrastructure, but also create a civic and monetary burden too great for our children to overcome.
Ignoring the built-environment costs governments nothing, but costs you and me plenty. In a “time out,” more underground pipes will burst – those transporting gas could be catastrophic. Unfilled potholes will leave us paying for wheel alignments, new shocks, springs and tires. For those of us relying on public transit, we are more and more likely to be riding systems that are outdated and inefficient to serve our increasing demands. What about ignoring structurally-deficient bridges? Let’s not forget the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. These are just some of the problems we will encounter.
Delayed gratification does not work in the infrastructure market. If we don’t invest in our airports, roadways, bridges, tunnels and transit systems now, many existing systems will ultimately collapse under the stress of our expanding population. The civic disruption and monetary costs associated with designing, building and maintaining tomorrow’s infrastructure will only become more expensive with time. Is this what we want to pass along to our children?
Edward M. D’Alba, PE
President and CEO, Urban Engineers, Inc.