If Hurricane Harvey has taught us one thing it's that America's infrastructure is a mess that needs to be fixed promptly.
President Donald Trump’s campaign ran on the promise of “building the wall.” He is right, America needs a wall, just not the one he promised.
If Hurricane Harvey has taught us one thing it’s that America’s infrastructure is a mess that needs to be fixed promptly. Just look at these numbers:
The New York Times reported in 2017 that 70 percent of all dams in the United States will be more than 50 years old by the year 2020. Two thousand state regulated dams are considered high hazard and in need of repair. High hazard is defined as having a high potential for loss of life if the dam fails.
The cost to fix all the dams in America: $60 billion.
The United States, according to a CNN report, has over 612,000 bridges of which 55,710 are in immediate need of repair or replacement. It seems every year we have horror stories of bridges collapsing.
In 2017 alone the U.S. had two major bridge collapses, one in California and one in Atlanta. In recent years, we have witnessed major bridges collapsing in Minnesota and Oklahoma, causing several deaths.
How much will it cost to fix our bridges? In 2012 the Department of Transportation estimated the cost at $22 billion for major roadway bridges and $26 billion for secondary roads.
Like it or not, we are flyover country. Most American citizens live and work on the East Coast, West Coast, Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Living near large amounts of water — Tingley Beach doesn’t count — is where most Americans call home.
Yet those oceans and lakes are rising, there is no disputing that. Would it be reasonable to relocate hundreds of millions of American citizens inland, away from coastal flooding? Of course not.
So why not a major American construction project to build seawalls around large population centers? This is the sort of wall I can agree with. After seeing pictures of the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, you have to wonder why this nation is not building seawalls to keep those ocean waters out?
Miami seems to flood every time a toddler pees in the ocean. We should take a cue from our Dutch friends and build seawalls to keep the ocean out of our populated cities.
Hurricane Harvey caused immense damage by flooding Houston, not with a great storm surge. So the question there is how about building levees and dams that can hold a 500 year storm. The storm is going to happen, so why not use our tax dollars now to make those citizens safe in the future?
Closer to home, forest fires are a year-round threat that has been underfunded and understaffed. In 2014, Congress did a study that showed at least $1.8 billion dollars would be needed to fight forest fires that year. They only had $1.4 billion in their budget.
And it’s not just the money to fight fires, but the money to prevent them. This is an area that state and federal government has not adequately funded for years. With fires raging throughout the year, the country must fully fund fighting forest fires and preventing them.
How about that electric grid? It has been called the “greatest engineering achievement” of the 20th century by the National Academy of Engineering. Sadly, this “engineering achievement” is falling apart and is open to cyber attacks.
The cost to fix the entire grid system ranges in the trillions of dollars. A huge amount of money, but one that we need to spend unless you like going to bed when the sun goes down.
Part of this energy grid involves nuclear power plants. You only need to remember Fukushima and Chernobyl to recognize how important an updated and protected nuclear plant is.
Both plants are out of service and very dangerous for human health. Could these tragedies happen in America? If we don’t prepare, it is only a matter of time.
How about the high level nuclear waste created by these power plants and military testing? America still does not have a safe place to store this waste. WIPP, in southeastern New Mexico, is only suitable for low-level waste. Currently, high-level waste is still sitting at the plants and installations that created it.
High-level nuclear waste is a national emergency. Sadly, most of Congress and our citizens have their heads stuck in the ground. Being ignorant of the danger high-level nuclear waste poses to the country is not a good way to govern.
Hurricanes that are stronger, cause more damage and displace millions, fire seasons that never end, bridges that collapse, power grids that go down, nuclear waste, and rising sea levels that threaten large coastal populations are not catastrophes for future generations. They are happening to our generation right now.
Congress needs to put in place a plan to begin fixing these issues. It’s going to cost a lot of money, but just look at how much it costs when we don’t prepare.
America needs a giant infrastructure plan to make America safe again.