On May 29, 1935, two years after they had begun pouring, crews placed the last concrete in Hoover Dam. This modern civil engineering wonder stood completed two and ½ years ahead of schedule.
Across the industrialized world in places like China and Germany, high-speed railroads and gleaming new airports are being built at a great pace. And here in the United States? According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we have infrastructure so outdated that it will take some $2.2 trillion dollars to fix. There are many reasons behind this grim picture. But one reason, some experts tell us, is how long it takes to approve such projects.
If you want to understand what’s happening or what is not happening to infrastructure in America, take a look at the Bayonne Bridge, an 81-year-old, mile long structure that connects New Jersey to Staten Island and forms a critical part of the region’s transportation grid. It has also become a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences.
Because of the bridge’s height–or lack of it–the newer generation of bigger ships that will soon pass through the expanded Panama Canal will be unable to pass under the bridge to reach the Ports of Newark and Elizabeth in New Jersey and Howland Hook on Staten Island. Unless it’s fixed, that will cost the region uncounted billions of dollars in lost economic activity. Port Authority Engineers say they found a solution in 2009 – and now it is 2013. Our story explores what’s holding up (or down) the bridge.
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Support for this program is made possible by: Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation, The William and Mary Greve Foundation, and O’Shaughnessy Family Partners LLC.