Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

Dealing With Aging Infrastructure

Posted by Pete McBreen Sun, 10 Jul 2011 03:28:00 GMT

Now that the last shuttle launch has taken place, and with no replacement yet available, it is sobering to think that some bits of infrastructure are even older than the Space Shuttle.

Car and Driver have a report on the state of the interstate highway system and it does not sound good.

Now massive sections of the interstate, including almost all of  them near major cities, have reached the end of their useful life; the interstates were designed to last 20 or 30 years, but now some areas are pushing 50 years and handling far more traffic than their planners anticipated. But as we reach into our wallets, we run into our generation’s big dilemma: We’re nearly broke.

In many ways the interstates are like the space shuttle. The design lifetime has been known for a long time, but the political will to put in the necessary investment to get a replacement available in time was not there. While the lack of a space shuttle is not critical, it does have major implications for the International Space Station, which can now only be reached by Soyuz rockets that were designed even earlier than the space shuttle.

Crumbling interstates and bridges are a much bigger concern since they affect how well the overall economy runs. Lose a major bridge as the Car and Driver report highlights, and suddenly life in a city grinds to a halt as people have to find alternative routes.

  • What other bits of our infrastructure are aging and soon going to need replacement?
  • Have we done the necessary investment to be able to build the replacements in time?