Replace, repair, or re-think?

The biggest criticism of the ASCE estimates is that they assume everything that is deteriorating or overloaded needs repair or expansion, and in some cases it may be better to abandon old worn-out infrastructure, or to redesign the systems to use what we have more efficiently.  This is particularly true of highways.  It might be better to tear up old 2-lane highways that parallel Interstates instead of constantly repaving them, for example.  And congestion in cities might be better dealt with by mass transit and congestion pricing than by ever-expanding freeway lanes.  But these are mostly quibbles.  Dangerously old dams, bridges, sewers, and water pipes really do need to be fixed or replaced, air traffic congestion in the US is the worst in the world, and our waterways are getting badly clogged, at considerable economic cost – for most of our infrastructure problems, there’s no alternative to either repairing or rebuilding the damaged system.


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