Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
95 Percent of Americans Say U.S. Infrastructure System is Failing
October 2nd, 2013 by Susan Smith
Mike DeLacey, president of Microdesk spoke about Microdesk’s recent survey that highlights the American public’s concern over infrastructure failures and the lack of government funding.
Last year, DeLacey said Microdesk conducted a survey of design and construction professionals to see what their thoughts were on the decline of infrastructure in the U.S. This year the general public was surveyed. “Some of the primary things the general public recognizes is that there are some real challenges around real quality in the U.S. infrastructure,” said DeLacey. “They feel our infrastructure isn’t where we want it to be but don’t recognize how bad it actually is.”
93% of the general public surveyed believe that the federal government should take the primary role in doing something about the failing infrastructure. The survey is intended to bring awareness to the public and the government, so that hopefully the information will help result in transportation bills to meet the funding requirements.
In addition to the fact that most bridges in the U.S. are 50 years old or older, and are not up to safety standards, natural disasters occurring in increasing frequency have highlighted this situation. The current infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges and energy (power and water), cannot withstand natural disasters.
“We’re going in and repairing things after the fact, but we don’t have the plan for preparing before the fact. That’s what we’re trying to shine the spotlight on,” said DeLacey. “We have the ability to do things proactively rather than waiting for things to happen and then coming up with emergency response to that.”
U.S. infrastructure ranks a surprising 15th among world economies, as emerging countries have newer infrastructure. “Many of them invest a percentage of GDP considerably more than the U.S., 3-4 times more, so they are building new infrastructure at a very rapid pace. The U.S. infrastructure mostly is 40-50 years old, and we are investing a very small percentage of the GDP to maintain and replace it.”
Most bridges have a 50-year lifespan and are coming to the end of that lifespan. New technology and materials can be used to make the bridges of the future last longer. However, there is always a tradeoff between costs, quality, longevity, and the question is if the goal is to maintain something as inexpensively as possible to extend lifespan, or put something new in place that will last 50 years, or to put something in place that will last a 100 years. Do we have a comprehensive plan to deal with the fact that the infrastructure is coming to the end of life? What is the plan?
93% of respondents think the government should take the lead role in delivering that funding, however, we currently have a federal government that is shut down.
Private funding has been a way for the federal government to shirk responsibility for critical infrastructure, but 68% disagree that improvements should be provided by the private sector. As those entities take responsibility for roads and bridges, they create toll roads, and that way citizens are paying double for infrastructure – to the federal government through taxes, and tolls via the states and private companies.
The following is Microdesk’s press release on this topic:
NEW YORK, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Microdesk, a leading provider of business and technology consulting services to help firms successfully plan, design, build and operate land and buildings, today unveiled the results of its 2013 “State of the Industry” survey. The survey1 of over 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older, conducted online in August by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microdesk, asked questions regarding their sentiments on a wide range of issues, from what infrastructure is believed to be at greatest risk to how improvements should be facilitated.
Following a year in which Americans witnessed the devastating impact of natural disasters including Hurricane Sandy and infrastructure failures such as bridge and building collapses throughout the country, the survey revealed Americans are keenly aware of the country’s failing infrastructure system.
Where U.S. Infrastructure Stands: Americans Recognize Dismal State
Infrastructure Challenges: Americans Show Concern on Bridges, Roads
Tools For Change: Americans Look to Technology, Government
“After a hard year in which Americans experienced the devastating effects of everything from hurricanes and tornados to bridge failures and train derailments, there is a strong awareness that our infrastructure system is in serious danger,” said Michael DeLacey, President, Microdesk. “Our consumer survey shows that Americans are looking for a combination of government leadership and funding, along with new technologies, to get U.S. infrastructure back on its feet. This mirrors the sentiment we saw in our first State of the Industry survey2, as well as other recent polls of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry professionals. As consumer awareness grows, now is the time for a serious discussion around next steps.”
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