Halloween season already came to pass but issues in US infrastructure still remain to haunt us.
The aging public utilities has long been an issue and a challenging infrastructure asset management hurdle. If you are not too worried about the current state of US infrastructure, maybe you will start showing concern when you discover the age of the oldest working infrastructure in the United States of America.
How old do you think is that public infrastructure?
Surprisingly, USA’s longest serving public utility is more than 300 years old. And it certainly is showing its age.
We are talking about the Frankford Avenue Bridge in Philadelphia. The bridge is first known stone arch built in the US and is purportedly the oldest stone bridge in the country.
It was built in 1697 and is still being used today. It has survived three centuries and underwent two major expansions and despite its age, it continues to be a passage to 17,000 cars a day.
The resilience of Philly’s oldest bridge is commendable, but other old infrastructures in US are not faring so well.
Take for example its nearest neighbor, the Philadelphia water line. Just recently, the century old water pipe burst, which resulted to wastage of about 13 million gallons of water, which flooded a nearby parking lot and some stores. The incident caused $3 million worth of damages and was definitely a water utilities infrastructure management nightmare.
And among the public infrastructures, the state of public water is precariously dismal. A study from the American Water Works Association (AMWA), the cost of restoring the present water systems and improving them to distribute to more households is at least $1 trillion, with the rehabilitation spanning 25 years.
And that’s just the water pipes. The railroad system and power grids of USA are in the same dire situation.
So what do these old public utilities tell us?
For one, it manifests that the American forefathers have good utility infrastructure management planning up their sleeves when they created these infrastructures since they survived the test of time and natural and man-made disasters. It reflects the undying American spirit which will rally against all odds.
However, these old public utilities also tell us that resilience also comes with a price. And that is constant rehabilitation and conscious effort to improve this infrastructures to continue serving their purposes and maintain the status quo of American society. These critical infrastructures and the role they play in our daily lives are the main reasons why infrastructure asset management must be given attention to.
As AMWA study said, rehabilitating the water pipes alone will cost a trillion dollars. If the local authorities and legislators think this is a lot of money, then they should be aware that according to the study, postponing development of these public utilities will only add to the problems in the years to come and spending will double to two trillion dollars if we will not act now and implement a feasible utility infrastructure management plan.