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Rural Infrastructure Needed: High-Tech Solutions for Low-Budget America.

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Rural infrastructure is hard to handle. Large projects like trains, electrical lines, and bridges are a lot easier to manage both in terms of costs and care in urban areas. Not only is there more tax revenue from compact areas, but there are more inspectors readily available to test bridges and move electrical lines, and waste/water lines are kept in constant repair. Rural areas rarely see the level of care, upkeep, or updates that urban areas get, and this makes updating America's rural world hard.

Transportation

Transportation is one of the largest issues for rural infrastructure. Not only is transportation one of the most needed, but it's often the most neglected (to point of breaking). Safe bridges, easy-to-transit roads, and the introduction of a public-transit option would reduce the number of transportation-related deaths and would encourage economic growth. With transportation accounting for one out of every ten dollars in the US GDP, it's a big deal when it's broken.

  1. Bridges/Safety

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Bridges are not good in America. They are in a state of disrepair and thousands of people rely on them every day. These are especially important for rural commuters who have to travel over unsafe conditions every day to get to work over the 65 thousand bridges that are structurally deficient in America. Not only is this dangerous for daily commuters, truckers, and travelers, but it also severely limits the movement of bridge inspectors. Just getting to the bridge to inspect it for damage can be an issue, if there are even enough inspectors in your state to handle the workload of regular bridge inspections. Safe means of transport is a huge part of achieving economic growth and national defense, and safe bridges are a part of improving every internal means of transport. This means that they are good for roads, good for trains, great for boats, and any other things you could think of like nature bridges or bike trails.

B. Roads

America turned to roads, and has used roads as the major movement mechanism. Everything from exploring national parks (except Denali), to just plain goods hauling goods (64% of the total freight value is moved by trucks). Roads are important, but they are in bad state, almost as bad as the bridges. This could be because of the costly upkeep or the limited perceived value of rural roads, which is a huge deal when the cost of maintaining a road is reduced and placed on the private citizen as the cost of maintaining a vehicle. It also limits the ability of the United States to provide defense. This is a pretty big deal when considering the building of a five-billion-dollar wall is in play as necessary defense spending. To save on budget, making roadways and transportation multi-use would save the cost of continually upgrading trains AND roads, it could also make alternative travel choices like trains more reliable in rural areas.

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C. Trains

While cost per mile for transit trains is more than the cost per mile in building highways, the cost of traveling on the highway is more than the cost of traveling on a rail-line. Not to mention the environmental cost and higher life toll of the highway that makes it not only economically a poor choice, but environmentally and for the health of the nation a terrible transportation choice to stand behind. While rural train systems might be hard (especially for sparsely populated states like Wyoming or Montana) large-scale, efficient rail systems are easier to maintain, lower cost, and better for the nation to focus on.

Electrical Systems

If you built a railway line with the option of ATO single-car travel, then there is already an electrical line built out. However, America doesn't like trains, and the innovations that come with electrical availability and information constantly available (internet) is great.

Electricity

The logistics involved in running a power line up to every house in West Virginia is mind boggling. The hills alone are a daunting task, let alone the distance, the upkeep, and finding those out of the way people to let them know that electricity now runs to their house. While there is little additional cost of providing continuous power to a rural customer, the line set-up and maintenance is incredibly difficult.

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Good portions of the country currently have power lines, so the infrastructure is mostly in place. Putting up new lines isn't a huge issue or cost (since close to 100% of Americans have access to power), but maintaining old lines is. This can be accomplished through the use of drone technology, this technology could also be used to more quickly inspect bridges, report wildfires (save sections of line), or find places without homes without power lines

B. Information availability

While electricity is still the mainstay of lighting the nation's infrastructure, information availability is reduced in rural areas. Not only is there a lack of reliable internet access, but older mainstays like the library are far and few between. To fill in the information gap many libraries offer digital copies of books, there are also free apps like librivox that offer free audio versions of all the classics, but without reliable internet access, there is significant information gaps in rural communities.

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Mary Grace is a freelance writer based out of the beautiful Boise, Idaho. She loves hiking, skiing, and everything in between. Comment down below, or tweet her.


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Rural Infrastructure Needed: High-Tech Solutions for Low-Budget America.