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Casting a Vote for Infrastructure

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012

By Karen Kapsanis


I really don’t like leap years, mainly because they are the years when the campaign for U.S. President shifts into high gear. And I get tired of the same old rhetoric.

This year, I have heard from the two main parties about creating jobs for the private sector, and I have read a bit from both sides about what to do (or not to do) about government funding for infrastructure and other programs.

Same lyrics, different tune, from any presidential campaign with an economy in trouble.

Frankly, I don’t care who creates jobs in the U.S. I would like to see jobs opening up in the private sector (and people qualified to take the jobs). And I would like to see lots of those private-sector jobs going to contractors to protect our infrastructure. And here’s why.

Failing Grades

JPCL has had author after author cite the low grades our bridges, waterworks, and wastewater facilities get from civil engineers.

That doesn’t even count things like our aging transmission towers or, say, the many leaking chemical storage tanks I read about in PaintSquare News.

And I have seen poor infrastructure and what can happen because of it: A bridge that slipped a few inches because of corrosion, endangering motorists; flooded roads—where people have drowned—because of poor or neglected stormwater controls; roads with potholes so bad that one, deceptively deep and hard to dodge, blew out a tire on my car and bent the rim….

Doing the Right Thing

Now, full disclosure: I’m happy to report that I have also seen the repair and frequent inspections of the bridge that slipped. I am happy to report that some of Pittsburgh’s many bridges are being repainted right now.

 

 kdka.com (left); San Bruno Fire Department (right)

 kdka.com (left); San Bruno Fire Department (right)

Fix it now, or face the consequences later. In Pittsburgh (left), NiSource is investing in the first option. In San Bruno, CA, Pacific Gas & Electric will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the second, fatal one.

I am happy to report that roads in the area are being repaved and potholes filled. I am happy to report that the gas company that serves part of Pittsburgh is replacing its lines throughout the area, noting in a letter to customers that the lines are in some cases more than a hundred years old.

I have seen private contractors and subcontractors complete much of this work. It’s all infrastructure, public or private, and it needs to be rehabilitated. Doing so creates jobs in the private sector, and doing so means better protection of the public and the environment.

So regardless of who wins the election, I want to see the creation of jobs that will make our infrastructure get better grades.

Failure to protect our infrastructure has been an option for too long.

Editor's Note: This blog was originally published Oct. 1, 2012.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Karen Kapsanis

Karen Kapsanis was the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings when these blogs were written. Post-JPCL, Karen remains an inexplicably lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and a surprisingly speedy sprinter.

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Tagged categories: Bridges; Commercial contractors; Economy; Government; Industrial Contractors; Infrastructure; Jobs; Labor; Program/Project Management; Tunnel; Wastewater Plants

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