America's infrastructure debt is so bad that towns are unpaving roads they can't afford to fix


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/14/americas-infrastructure-debt.html


The ACLU has a roadmap for defeating President Donald Trump's signature initiatives
#2

Well maybe we don’t need city slickers in their BMW’s driving down our roads. My monster truck handles it just fine.


#3

In some ways I’m ok with this. Not every rural road should be paved - nor should a road even be present where it’s not really needed. Maybe a return to nature in some cases is in the best interests of everyone.

However, there is no excuse for ignoring critical infrastructure in populated areas - bridges and waterways especially. Tax phobic citizens and legislators need to get over their government disdain and realize that taxes are the price you pay for a civilized society.


#4

Small Government simply isn’t big enough to build or maintain huge, tax-wasting boondoggles like roads, water, sewers and electricity. Every dollar wasted on Liberal Utopian projects like those is a dollar less to spend on important things, like privatized prisons, privatized schools and other Public-Private Partnerships that ensure hard-working taxpayer taxes go to the Right People.

They should at least America it up and add wicked jumps rigged with fireworks that go off when you jump off them.


#5

Apparently there’s a county in rural Georgia with really bad roads…and the local administration does nothing!


#6

Heretic! Burn the Witch!

Actually, I’m joking, but only because some people really feel that way, and it’s super demoralizing. I live about 20 minutes from a bridge that had to be closed because it was incredibly dangerous, causing a massive hassle for the folks who live on the other side of it. They are not rich or powerful, so they got capital-S-Screwed.


#7

I’d be curious to know(though the collection of this data would likely be a real bear and make you feel lucky if the towns involved have obscure GIS systems to grovel through) how much, if any, of the road being ‘unpaved’ is a victim of shortsighted cheapskate behavior; and how much of it was ‘overpaved’(in the sense that it didn’t receive enough use/the correct type of traffic/etc. to justify going from a dirt or gravel road to an asphalt one) because of some prior period of automotive exuberance.

I have no reason to doubt that a lot of the infrastructure rot is just that; but it is the case that dirt roads, gravel; and various other less-than-asphalt options are considered perfectly reasonable for situations where the level of use doesn’t justify more intensive infrastructure buildout(these ‘lesser’ roads sometimes even have advantages when they are located in areas where things like plowing and deicing are prohibitive: dirt and gravel roads are traversable unless the snow is too deep for your vehicle; and take real effort to form a dangerous ice layer. If unsalted, asphalt can ice up pretty readily).

Letting infrastructure rot when it’d be sensible to have it is bad; but sizing your solution to your problem is valuable.


#8

I recently bought some cookies from my nephew to help him raise money for some class/project/somethingorother, and remarked to my wife that I would rather have a system in place where I automatically pay for these sorts of things rather than having schoolchildren beg for money while peddling cheap overpriced products. If only such infrastructure existed in our society.


#9

I have a lot of friends in Vermont, and am aware of people who don’t want the roads they live on to be paved because it would speed up traffic. In one case I’ve seen where the road did end up being paved, the state had to install a cow underpass because a farmer had fields on both sides of the road and with the increased speed of traffic it was no longer safe to take cows across the road between them.

Not to mention that, as @fuzzyfungus has said, they’re better in winter. In addition, having dirt roads helps keep the town road crew employed, which both provides local jobs and means the town has the workers and trucks needed to clear the roads (including the ones which are paved) quickly after a snowstorm.


#10

Very few monster trucks in Vermont. Lots and lots of Subarus.


#11

Ever read Kunstler’s World Made By Hand? There are countless other books covering similar territory, but Kunstler’s is a recent example. While some people may be comforted by the idea that our deteriorating infrastructure can be replaced with solutions that were considered innovative (and useful!) in the 1850s, I see this as a poignant reminder that we are in a new era of chronic decline. While it will be possible to build a new reality using technologies resurrected from our recent past, the inevitable consequence of this will be a vast and comprehensive disruption of our ordinary lives, to the point that, yes, we may need to consider inaccessible those familiar places where we used to go, maybe not in BMWs (as one poster above wryly suggested), but in other vehicles less suited and capable in the encroaching wilderness of our more primitive future. Maybe less access for human beings will produce benefits for other creatures–but as we all crowd into dense communal knots on the fringes of our crumbling urban cores, it may become a considerable challenge to travel even two miles by foot, let alone several hundred in an automobile one failed spark plug away from the junk heap.


#12

I seem to remember that in very old version of Sim City this was pretty much what happened to roads where upkeep wasn’t funded: they went from potholed to just plain gravel. And now it’s happening with America’s real-life infrastructure.


#13

Everyone who ever played SimCity knows you don’t skimp on the road budget. As soon as you do that everything else stops working.

Maybe we should use the original SimCity as part of a competency exam for wannabe mayors.


#14

Oh wow, so it’s not dominionists who are trying to rot America from the inside out to bring about their vision for the future, it’s Mad Max cosplayers. cool.


#15

This is why we can’t have nice things.


#16

In all the years I played SimCity I never once cut funding for transportation. This guy scared the shit out of me.

JESUS OKAY OKAY FINE


#17

May I please point Godzilla at the Drumpf?


#18

I’m guessing you haven’t driven on many dirt roads? “Car-smashing”??? Certainly a dirt road that falls into disrepair can have some potholes or washboard. But a decently maintained gravel road in a rural setting with moderate traffic can be both pleasant to drive as well as support moderately high speed traffic. I’ve crossed most of Utah and Nevada on dirt roads in a tiny Honda Fit at 45-60 mph, no problem. Not dumping a huge percentage of our resources into maintaining overengineered automobile infrastructure is not a terribly bad idea.


#19

Say goodbye to your paint job.


#20

oh noes! my beemer she is not pretty!

of course, given that the government spends about $750 per car per year on highway infrastructure, with the savings I could give my car a fresh paint job every three years or so. Or just rinse it off every once in a while. Or just recognise that not everyone is living in Los Angeles-like urbanizations and already drives on dirt roads some or all of the time and they still manage to have unsmashed painted cars somehow.