American Road Infrastructure

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IAN
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American Road Infrastructure

Post by IAN » Thu Apr 29, 2021 23:19

The news is reporting that part of the planned 4 trillion-dollar stimulus package will be used to 'rebuild the crumbling road and bridge infrastructure' in the USA. (Not building new roads apparently)

I was very surprised to learn that this hugely wealthy superpower has such an issue. What's the problem exactly? Is it lack of maintenance or end of life structures - An Oldbury viaduct problem on a massive scale?

Are we talking about the major structures and freeways or is it local roads full of potholes?
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Having a cuppa » Fri Apr 30, 2021 04:35

IAN wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 23:19
The news is reporting that part of the planned 4 trillion-dollar stimulus package will be used to 'rebuild the crumbling road and bridge infrastructure' in the USA. (Not building new roads apparently)

I was very surprised to learn that this hugely wealthy superpower has such an issue. What's the problem exactly? Is it lack of maintenance or end of life structures - An Oldbury viaduct problem on a massive scale?

Are we talking about the major structures and freeways or is it local roads full of potholes?
As a Brit living in the southeastern United States, here's my take. The US road network consist of Interstates, US Highways, which are the predecessors to the Intestate system and State highways. I am fortunate to live in an area where there is a lot of tourism, so roads are pretty good (but the signage is ********). However, out in more rural areas there are many pot holes and a lack of connection to the Interstate system. In cities such as Detroit, which once housed booming industries before being outsourced to other places, there are abandoned factories, no work, poor education systems, and a lack of money to fund services. The US is a supposedly a "first world country" but our health care, criminal justice, policing, and education systems are flawed, all 50 states do their own thing, for example in one state, you can smoke Ganja while a stones throw away in another state you can own a tank. Thats not to mention the corruption with firms paying off politicians from both sides of the aisle. Anyways, due to the surplus of post-industrial cities which have lost their prior source of income, there has been a lack of money to maintain infrastructure, which has lead to degradation. As for the class of roads affected, the interstate system is funded by the federal government, who has the money, and the network is decent. The problem of "crumbling road and bridge infrastructure" primarily has to do with local routes and state highways.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Mark Hewitt » Fri Apr 30, 2021 07:03

IAN wrote:The news is reporting that part of the planned 4 trillion-dollar stimulus package will be used to 'rebuild the crumbling road and bridge infrastructure' in the USA. (Not building new roads apparently)

I was very surprised to learn that this hugely wealthy superpower has such an issue. What's the problem exactly? Is it lack of maintenance or end of life structures - An Oldbury viaduct problem on a massive scale?

Are we talking about the major structures and freeways or is it local roads full of potholes?
Take with a pinch of salt since I am an outside observer.

The USA is a famously low tax economy. Low tax leads of course to low spending. So what can be put off, like major repairs to roads and bridges, is. They aren't the only country in that pickle of course Italy being a good example, and they aren't a low tax country.

Also correct me if I'm wrong here. But the tax and spend system is very localised. In the UK councils get most of their money from central government, big road projects are funded by default from general government and councils can ask for extra money for bigger projects. In the US if the money isn't raised in that particular state / city then it isn't available to spend. Hence I guess the need for this massive stimulus bill. - again I might have interpreted this entirely wrong.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by jackal » Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:07

It should also be remembered that the US has vastly more early freeway than the UK or most European countries, hence it's a much bigger job keeping up with maintenance. Germany has the same issue and there is massive disruption from all the reconstruction now required.

By the way, there was a thread with Trump saying almost exactly the same thing when he took office. Rebuilding the crumbling freeways left by their predecessor from the opposite side of the aisle is a good look, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Having a cuppa » Fri Apr 30, 2021 12:41

Mark Hewitt wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 07:03
IAN wrote:The news is reporting that part of the planned 4 trillion-dollar stimulus package will be used to 'rebuild the crumbling road and bridge infrastructure' in the USA. (Not building new roads apparently)

I was very surprised to learn that this hugely wealthy superpower has such an issue. What's the problem exactly? Is it lack of maintenance or end of life structures - An Oldbury viaduct problem on a massive scale?

Are we talking about the major structures and freeways or is it local roads full of potholes?
Take with a pinch of salt since I am an outside observer.

The USA is a famously low tax economy. Low tax leads of course to low spending. So what can be put off, like major repairs to roads and bridges, is. They aren't the only country in that pickle of course Italy being a good example, and they aren't a low tax country.

Also correct me if I'm wrong here. But the tax and spend system is very localised. In the UK councils get most of their money from central government, big road projects are funded by default from general government and councils can ask for extra money for bigger projects. In the US if the money isn't raised in that particular state / city then it isn't available to spend. Hence I guess the need for this massive stimulus bill. - again I might have interpreted this entirely wrong.
Within this godforsaken country, the responsibility of taxation is devolved to the individual states, with exceptions. Due to living in a state where there is lots of tourism, residents don't have to pay a state tax, because the tourists are already paying for it. There again, as each state can do want they desire, there is a lack of coordination on the greater scale. Much of this crumbling infrastructure is in rural parts of the country, and statistically speaking, more Republicans live in rural areas than Democrats. If you've ever payed attention to US news, you would know the Republican mantra is 'low taxes' and the 'average working class family can't afford tax hikes', despite the taxes per person only going up by $15, which is necessary to provide better services and infrastructure. Simply put, the Americans aren't very good at maths or overall, a competent group of people.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by KeithW » Sat May 01, 2021 17:33

IAN wrote:
Thu Apr 29, 2021 23:19
The news is reporting that part of the planned 4 trillion-dollar stimulus package will be used to 'rebuild the crumbling road and bridge infrastructure' in the USA. (Not building new roads apparently)

I was very surprised to learn that this hugely wealthy superpower has such an issue. What's the problem exactly? Is it lack of maintenance or end of life structures - An Oldbury viaduct problem on a massive scale?

Are we talking about the major structures and freeways or is it local roads full of potholes?
A bit of both I suspect. There are a lot of bridges that were built in the early years of the boom in car ownership that are either nearing end of life, are now inadequate or both. As ever kudos accrues for building stuff but not maintaining it. State Route 315 in Columbus aka the Lawrence E. Hughes Memorial Highway was built as a freeway, not an interstate, in the 1960's mainly of concrete. By 1996 when I was working there it was crumbling, the winters there are vicious and water had penetrated the concrete bridges and had begun to seriously corrode the rebar. The bottom line was that they had to basically rebuild it from scratch which took about 2 years. Its pretty common on rural roads to find you have to divert because a bridge is out and or has been closed. Interstates by and large are much better maintained as funding for them is provided at the Federal level.
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/intmaint.cfm

But even at that level there have been disasters such as the I-35W Minneapolis Bridge collapse.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-35W_Mis ... ver_bridge


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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by RichardA626 » Sat May 01, 2021 21:52

I remember a lot of bridges collapsed when there was an earthquake in the Los Angeles area in the mid 1990s, and had to be quickly rebuilt.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by jervi » Sun May 02, 2021 01:23

Just have a look on google street view at current US freeways & interstates. Just looking at the structures makes you worry and that's before you look at the surface of some of the roads.

Like much of the West, the US have a fairly matured road network, while some routes are lacking freeways, overall most cities are connected fairly well, like you would find in the UK and Western Europe. While money could be spent on new routes, it would be better put to maintaining or rebuilding current routes.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@35.80021 ... 384!8i8192 - nice bit of rust. - This bridge has now been replaced
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@36.18801 ... 384!8i8192 - Exposed rebar, no problems, just put some spray on concrete on it. Also Blacktop for Lanes 1 & 2 but concrete for the merge/diverge lane???
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@39.30566 ... 384!8i8192 - Watch out for open joints!

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Glenn A » Sun May 02, 2021 19:32

Another thing, public transport is almost non existent in many parts of America, even some of the larger cities, meaning people have to drive to get around as buses are few and the railroads vanished decades ago, some states having no passenger trains for over 50 years. This surely means more pressure is put on the road infrastructure by the huge volume of traffic.

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by WHBM » Mon May 03, 2021 11:04

RichardA626 wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 21:52
I remember a lot of bridges collapsed when there was an earthquake in the Los Angeles area in the mid 1990s, and had to be quickly rebuilt.
January 1994. I was there. It turns up in a few posts I've made here in the past. The emergency arrangements and reconstructions were astounding. Contractor C C Myers got permanent reinstatements done in amazing short order, getting it finished in the time when UK consultants would still be standing round and saying "Oooh, nasty".

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm ... story.html

The Santa Monica is I-10, so has the highest federal funding contribution. The day after the earthquake California Governor Wilson gave a press conference saying "There's a lot of damage to the freeways. INTERSTATE 10 is down in multiple places. A junction on INTERSTATE 5 has collapsed ...". Nobody from LA ever speaks about these roads like this, they are always "The Santa Monica Freeway" or "The Golden State Freeway". A message was being sent to Washington !

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by RichardA626 » Mon May 03, 2021 21:42

WHBM wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 11:04
RichardA626 wrote:
Sat May 01, 2021 21:52
I remember a lot of bridges collapsed when there was an earthquake in the Los Angeles area in the mid 1990s, and had to be quickly rebuilt.
January 1994. I was there. It turns up in a few posts I've made here in the past. The emergency arrangements and reconstructions were astounding. Contractor C C Myers got permanent reinstatements done in amazing short order, getting it finished in the time when UK consultants would still be standing round and saying "Oooh, nasty".

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm ... story.html

The Santa Monica is I-10, so has the highest federal funding contribution. The day after the earthquake California Governor Wilson gave a press conference saying "There's a lot of damage to the freeways. INTERSTATE 10 is down in multiple places. A junction on INTERSTATE 5 has collapsed ...". Nobody from LA ever speaks about these roads like this, they are always "The Santa Monica Freeway" or "The Golden State Freeway". A message was being sent to Washington !
Thanks for filling me in, I thought there might be some previous posts.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by WHBM » Mon May 03, 2021 22:33

This is the section (two bridges but effectively one viaduct) of the Santa Monica I-10 which collapsed and was rebuilt in very short order. La Cienega Blvd on the left, Washington Blvd on the right.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0345397 ... 384!8i8192

Myers just bulldozed the wreckage of the 1964 bridges out along the two surface streets, or pulled it with cranes. I don't know if they did new piles, but these are the sort of sub-structure you typically lose or have distorted in an earthquake. I went and had a look at it just after the bridge was completed and reopened, but before the surface streets were; these still had wrecked bridge sections and contractors' plant on them. The bonus was on opening the freeway, not clearing away the job. Asked what he was going to do with the completion bonus money, Mr Myers, who still owned the contractor personally at the time, told a journalist "buy a much bigger company jet". In fact, he shared it out quite equitably with the crews who worked on it.

Don't say "plant" to a US engineer, otherwise they look confused. it's "equipment".

Interesting expansion joints at the bridge abutments. I am guessing they are earthquake protection of some sort. I've seen similar in the basements of high-rise buildings in LA :

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0351165 ... 384!8i8192

Here's some shots of the time, including (halfway down) that very bridge being demolished.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ga ... e%2C%20Feb.

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Bryn666 » Tue May 04, 2021 09:17

WHBM wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 22:33
This is the section (two bridges but effectively one viaduct) of the Santa Monica I-10 which collapsed and was rebuilt in very short order. La Cienega Blvd on the left, Washington Blvd on the right.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0345397 ... 384!8i8192

Myers just bulldozed the wreckage of the 1964 bridges out along the two surface streets, or pulled it with cranes. I don't know if they did new piles, but these are the sort of sub-structure you typically lose or have distorted in an earthquake. I went and had a look at it just after the bridge was completed and reopened, but before the surface streets were; these still had wrecked bridge sections and contractors' plant on them. The bonus was on opening the freeway, not clearing away the job. Asked what he was going to do with the completion bonus money, Mr Myers, who still owned the contractor personally at the time, told a journalist "buy a much bigger company jet". In fact, he shared it out quite equitably with the crews who worked on it.

Don't say "plant" to a US engineer, otherwise they look confused. it's "equipment".

Interesting expansion joints at the bridge abutments. I am guessing they are earthquake protection of some sort. I've seen similar in the basements of high-rise buildings in LA :

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0351165 ... 384!8i8192

Here's some shots of the time, including (halfway down) that very bridge being demolished.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ga ... e%2C%20Feb.
I seem to recall Myers were summarily awarded the LA contracts based on the work they pulled off after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. They made a name as the rapid turnaround crews - didn't they get given the MacArthur Maze job when that fuel tanker fire melted one of the bridges there too?
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by jgharston » Wed May 05, 2021 15:58

I remember watching CHiPs back around 1980 or so as a child and wondering at the masses of spider-trails of poured-tar patches all over the big California dual-carriageway roads, at the time where in my local town the roads were being repaired by chewing the surface off and laying a new layer of blacktop. It's as though they built them all but never put any system in place to repair them. Or - as has been mentioned - were never prepared to raise the taxes needed to pay to repair them.

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Bryn666 » Wed May 05, 2021 22:51

jgharston wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 15:58
I remember watching CHiPs back around 1980 or so as a child and wondering at the masses of spider-trails of poured-tar patches all over the big California dual-carriageway roads, at the time where in my local town the roads were being repaired by chewing the surface off and laying a new layer of blacktop. It's as though they built them all but never put any system in place to repair them. Or - as has been mentioned - were never prepared to raise the taxes needed to pay to repair them.
Given they were primarily civil defence projects you get the impression they thought the third world war would have happened before the repair bills landed.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by the cheesecake man » Thu May 06, 2021 20:28

Bryn666 wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 22:51
Given they were primarily civil defence projects you get the impression they thought the third world war would have happened before the repair bills landed.
Those of us old enough to remember that the 1980s was the era of these will know that's exactly how most people thought at the time:
Protect and Survive: a British government information campaign about what to do in a nuclear war
When The Wind Blows: a children's book and cartoon by Raymond Briggs about nuclear war
Star Wars: Ronald Reagan's high stakes "Strategic Defence Initiative"
Threads: a BBC drama about nuclear war

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Bryn666 » Fri May 07, 2021 11:07

the cheesecake man wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 20:28
Bryn666 wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 22:51
Given they were primarily civil defence projects you get the impression they thought the third world war would have happened before the repair bills landed.
Those of us old enough to remember that the 1980s was the era of these will know that's exactly how most people thought at the time:
Protect and Survive: a British government information campaign about what to do in a nuclear war
When The Wind Blows: a children's book and cartoon by Raymond Briggs about nuclear war
Star Wars: Ronald Reagan's high stakes "Strategic Defence Initiative"
Threads: a BBC drama about nuclear war
Yep, and for those who might not know, the official name for the network is The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, hence why you have Interstate I-H3 running entirely to a USAF base from Pearl Harbour.
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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by Glenn A » Sun May 09, 2021 19:30

jackal wrote:
Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:07
It should also be remembered that the US has vastly more early freeway than the UK or most European countries, hence it's a much bigger job keeping up with maintenance. Germany has the same issue and there is massive disruption from all the reconstruction now required.

By the way, there was a thread with Trump saying almost exactly the same thing when he took office. Rebuilding the crumbling freeways left by their predecessor from the opposite side of the aisle is a good look, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
American car ownership was vastly higher than Europe until the seventies, so the incentive to build freeways was greater and some pre date the Second World War. While the UK was starting work on the Preston by pass in 1956, the Interstate construction programme was well under way and the country had thousands of miles of grade seperated roads that we could only dream of. However, some of these roads are over 70 years old and falling apart, although I will say the Interstate system is a fine way of getting between cities quickly.

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by exiled » Mon May 10, 2021 17:32

The funding appears to be the main issue. The federal gas tax has not been raised since the mid 1990s, and governments at federal, state, or local level are reluctant to put up the taxes. So you do see a lot more new infrastructure it is getting built is being tolled.

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Re: American Road Infrastructure

Post by KeithW » Mon May 10, 2021 19:00

Glenn A wrote:
Sun May 09, 2021 19:30
American car ownership was vastly higher than Europe until the seventies, so the incentive to build freeways was greater and some pre date the Second World War. While the UK was starting work on the Preston by pass in 1956, the Interstate construction programme was well under way and the country had thousands of miles of grade seperated roads that we could only dream of. However, some of these roads are over 70 years old and falling apart, although I will say the Interstate system is a fine way of getting between cities quickly.
To be fair a lot of new roads were being planned and some were actually built in the 1930's but were stopped by the second great unpleasantness. Due to the level of post war debt and the transport policies of the Atlee Government it was the mid to late 1950's before work restarted in earnest. Notable prewar roads in the Teesside area included the A1085 Trunk Road, the A1130 from Middlesbrough to Billingham and the Wolviston to Billingham road. The reasons for building these were less about car ownership than strategic road routes to serve the large chemical industry at Billingham and the expansion of the iron and steel and shipbuilding industries to the deeper waters of the Tees towards the river mouth.

A lot of the London Arterial roads date back to this time as does the North Arterial Road and of course Abercrombie was planning his ring roads. You could do a lot worse than looking at the 1937 Proposals Maps
https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/maps/ind ... 11&layer=5

Then of course there were the various Ringway Schemes and the prewar improvements of the A1 such as the Wansford Bypass.
https://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/wiki/ind ... 0Edinburgh.

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