Restoring and Improving Urban Infrastructure

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Restoring And Improving Urban Infrastructure

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Nothing is sustainable for a lifetime; for example, everyday technology can be replaced by advanced software or damaged due to poor materials or structure. Many store bought items have warranties, but urban area infrastructures such as sewer systems, roads, rail network, national power, water, and natural gas grids have to be sustainable for an extended period of time because the expenses for repairs or replacement are insufficient. Population growth results in stress on infrastructure as well as unavoidable or uncontrollable events like natural disasters or time. News channels cover large stories once the damage has been done like the Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania, collapsed bridges, or property damage due to natural disasters, but the media’s purpose is to inform and publicize events. According to California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 290,692 acres have been burnt by forest fires and 34% of the fires have been contained. Recently Hurricane Florence destroyed the land causing agricultural loss worth billions, thousands of people had to evacuate, at least 37 dues, and millions lost power - more than 100,000 homes are still without electricity after the storm. The deteriorating infrastructure in urban areas is only furthered along by the lack of sufficient funds. Minimal amounts of community budgets are allocated toward maintaining the existing infrastructure in said areas. Engineers have been tasked with looking for a cost effective, long lasting solution to the crumbling infrastructure but have only run into problems with existing policies from the municipal governments.

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A report regarding opportunities for infrastructure reform by Robert Puentes and Patrick Sabol pointed out the specific challenges faced when in regards to bettering urban infrastructure. “Today’s leaders aren’t just stuck repairing antiquated roads that were designed to meet America’s needs in the 1940s, they are also burdened with procurement systems designed for a less connected and slower paced world. Outdated laws, unsupportive regulatory frameworks, non-existent standardization, poor coordination, and even the lack of commonly understood terminology continue to hinder progress.” The very foundation of our nation’s infrastructure is based on irregular and outdated standards.In an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, the problem was politics, thus a good chunk of the economic solution had to be politically based. To put it simply, a former detroit mayor was using was using city funds to line his own pockets among other things, and did not take action in maintaining the some of the city’s steeply declining infrastructural health, and the communities in those areas. There were (and may still very well be) many abandoned buildings, many of which were crumbling. Locals described the neglected area as nature taking back over as the vegetation spread unkempt. People struggling through daily life like having access to food, made the problem not so much an engineering problem, but rather, as stated, a political problem. Anthony also tried to promote an organization trying to support the areas that are in need.

New materials are being manufactured and tested daily. Some materials (like carbon nanotubes) have unusual properties and make engineers approach projects in completely different ways. Development in material sciences is one of the most integral parts of engineering and these new materials are often stronger, lighter, and cheaper than pre existing, conventional materials we currently use. Steel is one of the more important and better known examples. Steel allowed us to build stronger and taller structures than we had ever before. Similar situations occur today and will continue into the future. The time processes take are often cut back significantly due to the proliferation of newer and more efficient technologies. Computers and CAD systems have been essential forms of tech that have transformed the way engineers work on projects. It has allowed engineers to use their time more effectively, accelerating the pace at which projects can be completed. This gives designers the ability to maximize their workflow, finishing more projects in the same amount of time. Technology also leads to new building techniques, which changes the thought process of engineers about the construction of buildings and other structures.

Obviously, not every single state and city is nothing but corruption, but solutions are still in the same family/order. Examples include, establishing a decent source of funding, revising the gas tax, keeping awareness of infrastructural active not just during tragedies, and/or citizens writing letters to congressmen on the topic. The right solution depends on the specific problem and who is responsible for maintaining what.

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