Infrastructure in the News: Innovative and sexy are in, old and dilapidated are out

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With Dam Safety Awareness Day and the kickoff of Innovation Month, water, transportation, and dam infrastructure continue to be a topic of discussion in the media.

Monday was National Dam Safety Awareness Day, which raised awareness about the need for dam safety protocols and procedures to protect the public from danger potentially caused by failing dams. Alabama is the only state without a dam safety program, which means the state does not have a record of how many dams there are in the state or what condition they are all in. Without a dam safety program, Alabama also doesn’t have an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that is required in other states. While this is only one state, it underscores the need for nationwide awareness about the urgency of proper dam safety procedures. You can learn more by visiting livingneardams.org.

In addition to dam safety, this week is the start of the U.S. DOT’s Innovation Month, which highlights the importance of confronting our infrastructure challenges and striving to develop new ideas and solutions that move us forward.  ASCE’s Gamechangers report identifies great examples of innovative projects across a number of infrastructure sectors, and shows the benefits that communities experience when they choose to invest and innovate.

Innovation, however, is simply not enough to restore our water, roads, dams and bridges that need serious attention. A story in CBS detailed the state of our “crumbling bridges, cratered roads and leaking metros,” explaining how people prefer groundbreakings and openings over the routine work of infrastructure maintenance. Because of this mindset, the cost of fixing the country’s aging infrastructure is estimated to be around $1 trillion over the next decade.

An article in Forbes discussed the need to make infrastructure “sexy” again, emphasizing the tremendous importance that well-maintained infrastructure plays in our quality of life and overall competitiveness as a nation. An article in VICE News shone a light on U.S. rail infrastructure in comparison with the recent opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, underscoring the investment needs of our rail infrastructure.

In order to improve our infrastructure and build a foundation for innovation, it is important that local, state and federal governments work together to find long-term, sustainable funding that will allow for such improvement.

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