A recent dam collapse in Texas has once again reignited a conversation around America’s aging infrastructure.
While not something people discuss until it is oftentimes in the wake of an infrastructure disaster, the need for upgrades is widely known.
“This isn’t a surprise to the civil engineering community, it was an inevitability. A lot of our infrastructure was built over 50 years ago. It’s nearing the end of its service life and the price to replace it all is far too high,” Rakesh Khan, a Professional Engineer for FDH Infrastructure said.
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers issues a rating to the condition of the nation’s infrastructure. Each of the last two reports have issued a D-plus.
Much of this is due to the age of infrastructure still in use all over the country today. Bridges, dams, roads and buildings over the age of 50 are in common usage today, continuing far beyond their intended lifespan.
The issue is exacerbated by the fact that it becomes more expensive to overhaul a defective structure as it ages, as opposed to maintaining it throughout its projected life.
“For things that are 40, 50, 60 years old, there’s a huge challenge out there still for understanding what’s out there in the ground supporting a lot of our infrastructure,” Khan said.
With more and more incidents like the Lake Dunlap dam collapse in Texas last week, the conversation on infrastructure replacement will only grow louder. The question is, will it lead to action?