Infrastructure Brings You Breakfast
Our nation’s dams, roads, rail and more work together to bring goods to the store shelf.

Follow the life of a breakfast bagel from the wheat fields of rural Iowa to a bakery in New Orleans, LA. See how the final price of your bagel is affected by nearly every infrastructure system.

We begin our journey on a wheat farm in Central Iowa.
A dam stores excess surface water for irrigating soil and growing wheat. Dams are essential to providing everyday benefits such as drinking water, hydropower, flood control, and recreation.
10 PERCENTof American cropland is irrigated usingwater stored behind dams

What Happens if a Dam Fails?

Dam failures not only risk public safety, they also can cost our economy millions of dollars in damages. Failure is not just limited to damage to the dam itself, but can threaten nearby roads, bridges, and water systems.
If a dam does fail, the cost of your bagel could go up.
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Our journey continues as the wheat for our breakfast bagel is harvested and moved on a truck.

Along the way, the truck encounters rough roads. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and driving on roads in need of repair costs everyone money.

U.S. motorists paid $120.5 billion in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs in 2015, or $533 per driver.

Raise the gas tax to repair roads

Reducing maintenance costs of trucks carrying the wheat helps reduce the price of your breakfast bagel.

In 2015Iowa raised their gas tax. Since then millions of dollars have been spent repairing roads.
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40 PERCENTof additional power generation came fromnatural gas & renewable systems
The truck arrives at a Des Moines mill and drops off the wheat that will be used for our breakfast bagel.
The mill, powered by wind energy, converts the wheat into flour. Investment in renewable energy infrastructure is helping ensure long-term capacity and sustainability. In recent years, states have diversified their energy sources to include natural gas and renewable sources such as solar and wind generation.

Power Effect

Much of the U.S. energy system was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy. In the lower 48 states, more than 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines are reaching or at full capacity, causing unstable power systems and outages. When power outages occur along the supply chain, the cost of your breakfast bagel will increase.
Power Outages of Less Than Two Hourscost American Industrial BusinessesAn AveraGe of $5000/yr
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Intermodal Connectors — From Truck to Train

The flour for our breakfast bagel leaves the mill and is transported to a freight train via truck. To make the switch from one mode of transport to another, goods rely on well-maintained roads called intermodal connectors that lead to terminals such as ports and rail stations.

These routes are key to the timely and reliable delivery of goods but face a backlog of over $2 billion in deferred maintenance.

Freight Rail Gets a Boost from Investment

In 2015, Class I Freight railroads spent $27.1 Billion maintaining, modernizing, and expanding their systems

Currently significant investments need to be made to upgrade track to handle 286,000-pound rail cars, as well as repair and replace aging bridges.

From Train to Barge — the Nation’s Inland Waterways

The flour for our breakfast bagel arrives on a freight train in St. Louis and is moved to a barge where it travels down the Mississippi River.

Barges move through inland waterways with the help of locks and dams. Inland waterways support more than half a million jobs and deliver more than 600 million tons of cargo each year, or about 14% of all domestic freight.

The inland water system includes
25,000 miles of waterways
and 239 locks

Barge Delay

Many locks and dams are in poor condition and well beyond their 50-year design life. Investment has increased in recent years but upgrades still take decades to complete.

Nearly half of vesselsexperience aDelay of 2+ Hours per lock
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The Port Of New Orleans

The flour is transported down the Mississippi River to the Port of New Orleans.

Ports are Responsible for
$4.6 trillion in economic activity — roughly 26% of the U.S. economy.

Solid Waste Infrastructure Finishes the Job

When you dispose of your breakfast packaging, utensils and napkins, they are deposited into landfill facilities for municipal solid waste - more commonly called trash or garbage. Many areas are looking to innovative ways to re-use solid waste for another beneficial purpose, such as converting waste to energy.

In 201434% of municipal solidwaste was recycled

Infrastructure Brings You Breakfast

Our infrastructure is indispensable and interconnected

Dams help irrigate farmland, energy infrastructure helps produce our food, the freight network moves our commodities, and our solid waste infrastructure keeps our stores sanitary. Whether it’s rough roads, unreliable locks and dams, or congested ports, we pay the price.


Infrastructure Impacts

Through this story, you can see how infrastructure can impact the smallest areas of your day-to-day life. Although we have made incremental progress toward restoring our nation’s infrastructure, there is more that can be done.

Click on the below infrastructure categories to learn more about them and the improvements still needed.


Dams provide vital service and protection to our communities and economy. The average age of the 90,580 dams in the country is 56 years. As our population grows and development continues, the overall number of high-hazard potential dams is increasing, with the number climbing to nearly 15,500 in 2016. Due to the lack of investment, the number of deficient high-hazard potential dams has also climbed to an estimated 2,170 or more. It is estimated that it will require an investment of nearly $45 billion to repair aging, yet critical, high-hazard potential dams.

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America’s roads are often crowded, frequently in poor condition, chronically underfunded, and are becoming more dangerous. More than two out of every five miles of America’s urban interstates are congested and traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and our roads have a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs. After years of decline, traffic fatalities increased by 7% from 2014 to 2015, with 35,092 people dying on America’s roads.

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Much of the U.S. energy system predates the turn of the 21st century. Most electric transmission and distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy, and the more than 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the lower 48 states’ power grids are at full capacity. Energy infrastructure is undergoing increased investment to ensure long-term capacity and sustainability; in 2015, 40% of additional power generation came from natural gas and renewable systems. Without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions.

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For more than 150 years the rail network has been a critical component of the U.S. transportation system and economy. Today it carries approximately one-third of U.S. exports and delivers five million tons of freight and approximately 85,000 passengers each day. The private freight rail industry owns the vast majority of the nation’s rail infrastructure, and continues to make significant capital investment — $27.1 billion in 2015 — to ensure the network’s good condition. U.S. rail still faces clear challenges, most notably in passenger rail, which faces the dual problems of aging infrastructure and insufficient funding.

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The United States’ 926 ports are essential to the nation’s competitiveness, serving as the gateway through which 99% of overseas trade passes. Ports are responsible for $4.6 trillion in economic activity — roughly 26% of the U.S. economy. As ships get bigger, congestion at landside connections to other components of the freight network increasingly hinders ports’ productivity. Similarly, on the waterside, larger ships require deeper navigation channels, which only a few U.S. ports currently have. To remain competitive globally and with one another, ports have been investing in expansion, modernization, and repair.

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Inland Waterways

The United States’ 25,000 miles of inland waterways and 239 locks form the freight network’s “water highway.” This intricate system, operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, supports more than half a million jobs and delivers more than 600 million tons of cargo each year, about 14% of all domestic freight. Most locks and dams on the system are well beyond their 50-year design life, and nearly half of vessels experience delays. Investment in the waterways system has increased in recent years, but upgrades on the system still take decades to complete.Learn More

Drinking Water

Drinking water is delivered via one million miles of pipes across the country. Many of those pipes were laid in the early to mid-20th century with a lifespan of 75 to 100 years. The quality of drinking water in the United States remains high, but legacy and emerging contaminants continue to require close attention. While water consumption is down, there are still an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States, wasting over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. According to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years.

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The U.S. must continue to invest in our infrastructure to ensure our quality of life and economic competitiveness. 

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