Declining Infrastructure, Declining Civilization

September 26, 2010 • United States, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Leta Finch for this article.

For the 10th-anniversary issue of The Chronicle Review, we asked scholars and illustrators to answer this question: What will be the defining idea of the coming decade, and why?

Henry Petroski

The present state of the American infrastructure-roads, bridges, water supply, and the like-has been given an overall grade of D by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which regularly issues infrastructure report cards. The engineers’ estimate of how much it will cost to raise the grade from poor to acceptable is $2.2-trillion over a five-year period. Such a vast amount of money is unlikely to be available over the next decade.

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