Taking Failing Infrastructure Into Account

There are things we take for granted in the country.  Lots of things actually, widely available food in a wide array of choices, functioning electrical grid, peaceful elections, so on and so forth. Today I’d like to focus your attention on what you take for granted right under your feet, or wheels.  Some of the best constructed roads, bridges and tunnels ever pumped out by a single country.

These systems are fantastic! If you’ve never been to a country with sub-par roads, you  may not appreciate the difference that 12 inches of re-bar, concrete and asphalt can make for your daily commute.  We can blithely zoom around at 60, 70 mph most everywhere, with no fear of the road being washed out ahead, the bridge being out or the tunnel flooded.

The thing is though, we were willing to pay the price for these back when we had more oil and iron than we knew what to do with.  Now that things have slid to the other side of Hubberts curve, the cost to maintain these treasures is becoming harder and harder to bear.  As a nation we’re trillions behind in infrastructure repairs.

What does that mean for a prepper?  – You need to take the failing of infrastructure into account for everything from your daily work commute to your BO plans.  How many bridges do you cross every day?  Are there alternate routes you can take if one of those is no longer safe to drive over? Is your commute still affordable at that point?  Can you get to and from your house or BO location if the main bridge or highway is impassable? Are there multiple ways to get to the local trading centers from your house or BO location? (Grocery stores, banks, markets, etc.)  You need to take into account the life spans of roads and what condition they’re in now to extrapolate how much longer you can expect to use them. 41% of Iowa’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, we have tens of billions worth of work that realistically won’t get done. That bottom 40% of our roads is likely to be the first to go out and not come back.

Worse scenarios than bridges collapsing  – Dams. Oh yea, nobody likes to talk about dams in this country.  There’s not a lot of good news on that front, even here in Iowa where we’re relatively flat and dry, we have 83 high hazard dams. (A high hazard dam is defined as a dam whose failure would cause a loss of life and significant property damage.) 95% of high hazard dams in Iowa have no emergency action plan (EAP). (An EAP is a predetermined plan of action to be taken including roles, responsibilities and procedures for surveillance, notification and evacuation to reduce the potential for loss of life and property damage in an area affected by a failure of a dam.)  You’d better know where such dams are in relation to you, and have your own EAP in place to handle their failure.  My Maine peeps, you have less to worry about here, fewer dams and only 8% of them are lacking EAP’s.  States like Colorado with hundreds of dams are much better about the EAP’s, but they have similar problems as the rest of the US about maintaining roads and bridges.

Mitigation strategies – Roads that won’t support cars and trucks probably will still be able to facilitate walking/biking and perhaps even things like horses or 4 wheelers if you have the funds for such things.  If bridges are out, it’s conceivable that local communities could band together to patch things together for awhile. The Celts in Ireland used to pole jump across streams. Tribes in regions like Pakistan and Peru use knotted bridges to get people across rivers.  Our kids will probably just have to get creative about things.

Check out states that are of interest to you here – thttp://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/states

– Calamity Jane