Editorial

EDITORIAL: Repairing Infrastructure Should Be Our No. 1 Priority

As rescuers continue to search for survivors in the rubble of a partially collapsed 12- story condominium in Surfside, Fla., Americans remain on edge as the country’s infrastructure issue comes to a head.

As of Tuesday, June 29, 11 people have been confirmed dead and upwards of 150 residents are missing.

Amid the horror of search teams removing slabs of concrete and debris day and night looking for survivors, reports are surfacing that the building was cited for “structural damage” years ago.

Just a few months earlier, the board president of Champlain Towers South warned, in a letter to tenants, of a worsening condition of the building, saying “the concrete deterioration is accelerating.”

Even with very serious concerns being raised, no one took any action. Now, with countless people dead, grieving families ask: How did this happen?

For decades, America has ignored its aging roadways, waterways, buildings and deteriorating bridges.

In March, The American Society of Civil Engineers [ASCE] released its 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, giving the nation an overall C- grade, up from a D+ in 2017.

The study, conducted every four years, evaluated 17 categories of infrastructure with the U.S. receiving grades ranging from a B for rail to a D- for transit. Eleven of the 17 categories in the report card received a grade in the D range, including aviation, dams, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, public parks, roads, schools, stormwater, transit and wastewater.

Several months prior to the tragic events in Florida and the pedestrian walkway collapse over I-295 here in D.C., ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith issued a troubling prediction: “America’s infrastructure is in trouble.”

“This not a report card anyone would be proud to take home. We have not made significant enough investments to maintain infrastructure that in some cases was built more than 50 years ago,” Smith said.

“As this study shows, we risk significant economic losses, higher costs to consumers, businesses and manufacturers – and our quality of life – if we don’t act urgently. When we fail to invest in infrastructure, we pay the price.”

We can no longer ignore the health of these crucial systems in the U.S. The richest country in the world should not endure the prospect of citizens being killed while the building in which they sleep collapses, nor should they fear being crushed while driving underneath a bridge.

Make America safe again.

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