America's Infrastructure Crisis

Thursday, January 03, 2013

A view of the Kosciuszko Bridge from Queens. (Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive/Getty)

One in eight bridges in the United States have been categorized as structurally deficient and many more are reaching the end of their lives. Attorney and author Barry LePatner tells us what can be done about America's infrastructure problem. Where will the money come from in an era of tightening budgets and is there enough political will to prevent the country's infrastructure from falling farther behind? Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter for OPB News.


Kristian Foden-Vencil and Barry LePatner

Produced by:

Joseph Capriglione

Comments [9]

Michael Noblet from Clinton, WA

Interesting show re. our crumbling infrastructure. I have two thoughts to add:

1. While bridges are very important, here in WA state, and I assume in the rest of the USA, state and local highways are not being maintained. If a road is not resurfaced regularly, sometime it becomes prohibitively expensive do it. Here on Whidbey Island our state highway has not had an overlay in the 8 years we have lived here. It should be resurfaced but is not since we do not have the bucks to do it.

2. The underlying problem is that we do not have the financial capability to maintain our infrastructure and likely will not as our economy crumbles. This is the key issue NO ONE is willing to talk about.

Jan. 03 2013 09:38 PM
Emanuel Towns II from Boston, MA

I heard Mr. LePatner speak on Talk of the Nation Science Friday in August 2012 and he mentioned that the tranpsortation engineer in NYC, Sam Schwartz, stood his ground and closed the Williamsburg Bridge. As a young engineer, I am sad that the engineering community has made little use of its economic or political clout in mandating that bridges be renovated or rebuilt. Even though there have been few engineers or scientists in congress, it is hard to believe that programs like the X-Prize, Teach for America, and other similar enterprises have not translated to motivating the production of national infrastructure programs or other political action.
I know this idea may be radical, what would happen if Apple, Intel, Google or any of the major engineering companies removed their services for a day to prove the importance of maintaining and updating infrastructure. I think congress would get a quick lesson in what needs to be done in order to maintain and improve the United States' economic prosperity.

Jan. 03 2013 08:58 PM
A former Portland resident

I agree that the U.S. should spend money to repair and replace our aging infrastructure, but your claim that "everyone thinks [old bridges such as the Sellwood Bridge] are ugly anyway" was a bit presumptuous. "Everyone" does not think that the Sellwood Bridge is ugly, and your opinion about its appearance and design is irrelevant to whether the structure is sound enough for travel.

Jan. 03 2013 04:49 PM
oscar from ny

President Obama should use his momentum to do something bold, he should get all his brightest scientists and artist and build a railroad that connects across the U.S...i read a Bernarkie paper he wrote early that an economy that's in ruin can be taken advantage because of some secular math problem..electromagnetic trains for example

Jan. 03 2013 03:51 PM
Jason from Brooklyn

The Tappan Zee Bridge.

Jan. 03 2013 03:30 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

How many bridges have to collapse before the dangerous bridges get repaired?

I heard that the stimulus money actually did good for road work, why weren't the bridges part of the money, or was it?

Jan. 03 2013 01:23 PM
cnaples from Dallas, TX

The FM 407 bridge goes over I35E in a suburb just north of Dallas, Tx. About 10 years ago construction began to build a very much needed new bridge. An engineering mistake was discovered and the project was abandoned. Now 10 years later we still have a 2 lane bridge over a very busy highway. Bridge and highway both back up with traffic twice a day during the rush hours. It is a frightening situation.

Jan. 03 2013 12:52 PM

Were the rich twirling their moustaches and wearing top hats as they flew over with their helicopters lighting their cigars with $100 bills?
BTW..How is our man-of-the-peope President's Hawaiian vacation going after he spent nearly a billion on a stimulus package that was supposed to go to decaying bridges and roads?

Jan. 03 2013 10:13 AM
Carlos from Delray Beach, FL

Really? The rich using their helicopters to skirt decaying bridges?
What a pointless statement only meant to be divisive.
Even for the most progressive show on NPR, it was an idiotic point.

Jan. 03 2013 09:40 AM

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