The Infrastructure of America's Cities

By Kemp, Roger L. | Contemporary Review, Autumn 2008 | Go to article overview

The Infrastructure of America's Cities


Kemp, Roger L., Contemporary Review


Editor's Note: There has been increasing debate in Britain about the physical condition of most large cities. The election in May of a Tory, Boris Johnson, as Mayor of London has led to much speculation about ways to improve it and other cities. It is helpful to have some international perspective on such topics. In this article, a highly experienced expert on American cities describes the declining state of the urban infrastructure in the United States.

THE term 'infrastructure' refers to the basic facilities and installations necessary for cities to function in our society. These include transportation and communication systems (e.g., highways, airports, bridges, telephone lines, cellular telephone towers, post offices, etc.); educational and health facilities, water, gas, and electrical systems (e.g., dams, power lines, power plants, aqueducts, etc.); and miscellaneous facilities (e.g., prisons, asylums, national park structures), and other improvements to real property owned by government. In the United States, the infrastructure is divided into private and public sectors. In the latter case, divided again between facilities owned by municipal, county, state, and federal governments, as well as many special district authorities such as the Port Authority of New York and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, to name a few.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the only professional membership organization in the nation that has graded the country's public infrastructure, there are fifteen major categories of government infrastructure. These infrastructure categories include:

  Aviation; Bridges; Dams; Drinking Water; Energy; Hazardous Waste;
  Navigable Waterways; Parks and Recreation; Rail; Roads; Schools;
  Security; Solid Waste; Transit; Wastewater.

All levels of government in the US are facing a new era of capital financing and infrastructure management, now made all the worse by the 'credit crunch' and the rising cost of oil. Revenues that once were available for capital construction, restoration, and maintenance, have either diminished or evaporated entirely in recent years. Portions of the public infrastructure that were once adequate are now experiencing signs of distress, even decay, with no end in sight to the ongoing deterioration of America's ageing infrastructure.

Local and state, as well as the federal government, are now subjected to unprecedented fiscal demands for public services in an environment of limited taxation and dwindling financial resources. Throughout the nation, many state government deficits loom ominously on the horizon. At the same time, the federal deficit is at an all-time high, exacerbated by the fact that the US is financing two wars. These negative fiscal circumstances, experts believe, are likely to continue for many years to come.

Congested highways, overflowing sewers, and corroding bridges are constant reminders of the pending crisis that jeopardizes our nation's prosperity and the quality of life for our citizens. The August 2007 bridge collapse in Minnesota is only an example of this trend. With new grades for the first time since 2001, the condition of our nation's infrastructure has shown little to no improvement since receiving a collective grade of C-in 1988, with some areas sliding downward toward failing grades. The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure (see Note below) assesses the same categories as it did in its previous survey. The grade comparison of America's infrastructure between the ASCE's most recent 2005 survey and its original survey in 1988 are highlighted below.

Aviation-Received a grade of B--in 1988 and a grade of D+ in 2005.

Bridges-Received a grade of C+ in 1988 and a grade of C in 2005.

Dams-While not graded in 1988, this category received a grade of D in 2005.

Drinking Water-Received a grade of B--in 1988 and a grade of D--in 2005.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Infrastructure of America's Cities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.