Covering the environment, engineering, technology, and economics
Sunday, May 29, 2016
When We Built Bridges in 10 Days
From the Boston Globe - A lesson on infrastructure from the Anderson Bridge fiasco:
"America desperately needs a major increase in infrastructure investment and, if carried out effectively, an investment program could come close to paying for itself by generating an expanding economy. With record low interest rates, low material costs, and high construction unemployment, there is no better time. When states defer maintenance and repair for decades — as was done with the Anderson Bridge — it places a huge burden on future generations.
However, to collectively tackle the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, citizens need to believe that the government is up to the task. In an era when public trust in government remains near all-time lows, every public task is freighted with consequence. The relationship is cyclical — if government can start being more effective, it will win more trust, leading to more effectiveness. If, on the other hand, projects such as the Anderson Bridge repair project become the norm — then we are fated to increasing cynicism and distrust.
The Anderson Bridge is approximately one-sixth the length of the bridge Julius Caesar’s men built across the Rhine in 10 days in 55 BC. Caesar’s feat is admired not just for its technical mastery but also for its boldness. An allied tribe had offered boats to carry Caesar’s troops across the river, to avoid the difficult task of bridge-building. Yet Caesar rejected this offer, on the grounds that it would not be “fitting for the prestige of Rome.”
We should hold America’s infrastructure to the same standard."