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More than Potholes: Where America's Infrastructure is Failing

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A lack of funding along with the roads and bridges built more than 80 years ago has resulted in an infrastructure that can barely support the number of people and cars travelling across it on a daily basis. It's no secret that America's infrastructure is a problem that needs fixing, but what's being done?

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Lack of Funding
The funds that built most of America's infrastructure and the interstate system since the 1950s are close to running dry. It would take $3.6 trillion to fix up America's roads by 2020 based on an assessment made by the American Society for Civil Engineers . In an interview conducted by CBS, Former Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood says that the federal Highway Trust Fund that paid for a majority of the roads and bridges built over the last 50 years will soon go broke.

The Highway Trust Fund gets its money from the federal gas tax, which, since 1993, is currently about 18 cents/gallon. Several bills have come forward proposing to raise the gas tax, but each is met with resistance in Congress. Revenue from the gas tax has reduced as more fuel-efficient cars hit the road and the costs of fixing up America's infrastructure shoot upwards and congress continues funding short-term fixes lasting less than 2 years, instead of settling on long-term solutions.

Wear and Tear
A number of the most-traveled bridges and roads today are considered structurally deficient, and one in nine bridges are structurally deficient. Most of the bridges in America were built in the early 1900s, and we're still using these antique designs and making small repairs on bridges that need complete overhauls to make them structurally sound and safe again.

An example of this would be the Portal Bridge in New Jersey . Built in 1910, the bridge's design was already considered outdated by the time of its completion. More than 500 trains travel across this bridge daily, making it the busiest bridge for train traffic in the Western Hemisphere. Portal Bridge is also a swing bridge, meaning it has to open up a few times a week to let barges through. This takes half an hour by itself, not including when the rails regularly fail to lock back up. Delays hurt businesses and reduce foreign investments in the area.

What Does This Mean?
Civil engineering will grow as a field as America continues to deteriorate from the inside out and programs for online masters in civil engineering are becoming increasingly popular as well. When Congress can finally reach a funding decision, thousands of jobs will open up across the country for people with these degrees, but it's up to us and our representatives to get the job moving along.

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"Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter (more...)
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More than Potholes: Where America's Infrastructure is Failing

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