By Scarlett Jackson
America’s Failing Infrastructure
America’s greatest generation built the world’s greatest infrastructure network.
1950′s: Eisenhower Interstate Highway System
Over 47,000 miles of interstates
Today:Close to 4 million miles of total roads
Enough to circle the Earth 160 times
1860′s: First intercontinental railroads constructed
Today:150,000 miles of mainline track
The busiest and largest rail system in the world
1950′s: Louisiana’s Lake Ponchetrain Bridge (24 miles) is the longest bridge in America completed.
Today: 607,380 bridges
1979: the Eisenhower tunnel spans 1.7 miles through mountains west of Denver. At 11,000+ feet it is the highest point of the Interstate Highway System.
1825: Erie Canal connects the great lakes to the Atlantic through NYC.
1914: Panama Canal finished, cutting off 8,000 miles from the the NY to LA sea route.
April 6th 1776: defying British rule, all American colony ports are opened to international trade.
Today: 360 commercial ports in the U.S. ship $1.73 million in goods, or 11% of total GDP 
1909: College Park Airport in Maryland is the oldest continually operating airport in the world. Founded by Wilbur Wright. 
Today: Over 640 million passengers and 19.6 billion pounds of shipped goods in 2013.
But over time it’s failed to adapt.
BY 2010, America wasn’t even in the top ten for infrastructure competitiveness:
1.) Hong Kong
3.) United Arab Emirates
8.) United Kingdom x
15.) United States
Which costs a lot, personally, and nationally.
Personally: Even with higher household earnings, we spend more money on transportation than other developed nations.
[% of household earnings spent on transportation]
That’s $8,810 yearly per family![$50,054 x .176]
With 4.8 billion hours wasted in traffic jams in 2008.
TO the tune of 3.9 billion gallons of gas.
Nationally: Freight bottlenecks and congestion cost about $200 billion
Or 1.6% of the U.S. GDP in losses each year.
Chicago is the nations largest railroad center.
Due to congestion, it currently takes a freight train longer to travel through Chicago’s city limits than it takes for a train to travel from Chicago to L.A.
We’re not doing enough to remedy the solution
[% gdp spent on investment in new infrastructure]
[% gdp spent on maintenance of infrastructure]
Even though EVERY CENT of our GDP relies on infrastructure.
15,000 miles of high speed rails worldwide
Close to 0 of which are in the U.S.
less efficient highway and plane passenger travel
High Speed vs. Old-Fashioned
711miles/42 MPH/17 Hours
819 miles/168 Mph/5 hours
America’s passenger trains are slower than they were 50 years ago.
131,723 miles of roads built just from 1988 to today!
(Enough to circle the Earth 5 times)
…Without a plan to take care of existing roads…
210 million daily trips are taken across deficient bridges in our 102 largest cities.
1/4 American Bridges are functionally obsolete, or structurally deficient.
Including 77% of Washington D.C.’s bridges falling into these categories.
The U.S. has fallen to 22nd for quality of port infrastructure
And is losing traffic abroad.
1.) Are still using the same ground-based, radar system developed in the 1950′s.
2.)1/3 of all U.S. flights pass through NY, magnifying any delays at NY’s 3 main airports across the country.
Without a plan it’s only going to get worse.
Projected increase in travel and freight:
2020:Port volume will double
2030: Car passenger miles to increase 80%
2035: Train freight to increase by 88%
Our personal safety, financial stability, and lifestyle depends on the health of our infrastructure.