INFRASTRUCTURE AT A BREAKING POINT…U.S. ROADS, BRIDGES PIPELINES AND LEVEES ON THE VERGE OF FAILURE
One-hour documentary reported by CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Premiering on Thursday, November 17th at 10PM ET/PT
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., November 11, 2011--From California to Minnesota and Pennsylvania, states nationwide are grappling with crumbling infrastructure…600,000 bridges in need of repair, one-third of America’s major roads in dire condition, thousands of miles of old fuel lines stressed to their limits and billions of dollars needed to shore up the nations levees. It’s a crisis sweeping the nation. Is there a solution? Or is this our future?
The American Society of Civil Engineers has given our nation’s infrastructure a near failing grade of “D” overall. And, according to the Urban Land Institute, the U.S. needs to spend $2 trillion to rebuild roads, bridges and other critical pieces of public infrastructure that are reaching the end of their life spans, money that many believe just does not exist. On Thursday, November 17th at 10PM ET/PT, CNBC presents “The Race to Rebuild: America’s Infrastructure,” a CNBC Original reported by Correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, that takes viewers inside the infrastructure problems at hand and asks experts and policy makers what it will take to put the nation back on track.
Caruso-Cabrera visits the site of the August 2007 I35-W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which tragically sent dozens of cars, trucks and nearly 150 victims in the Mississippi River. Construction attorney and author Barry Lepatner tells CNBC that the catastrophic collapse in Minnesota should serve as a wake up call to the U.S. That bridge was considered structurally deficient and shockingly so are 70,000 others across the country. In fact, in Berks County Pennsylvania there are nearly 200 bridges alone that are considered to be structurally deficient—85 of them in such poor condition they now have weight limit restrictions. So how did we get to a place where so many bridges are in such bad shape? Experts say the answer is simple—a lack of maintenance and a lack of investment.
Danger underground—how safe is the pipeline running underneath your home? CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, looks at several pipeline explosions that have occurred in recent years including the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California. A tragedy that sent a massive fireball barreling through an entire neighborhood, taking eight lives, destroying 38 homes and raising critical questions about the safety of pipelines throughout the country. The San Bruno accident was blamed on substandard welds, among other problems, dating back to 1956 when the transmission line was first installed. With 2.5 million miles of pipelines in America, enough to circle the globe 100 times, pipeline safety and maintenance are huge concerns. The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration believes it is taking proper measures to test the condition of our nation’s pipes, but critics argue that there isn’t enough being done by an industry responsible for regulating itself.
In September 2005, Hurricane Katrina brought more than 50 levees to their breaking point costing the city billions of dollars and taking hundreds of lives. Water is one of the most powerful forces of nature especially when the levees put in place to protect us fail. Levee expert Jeff Mount says our nationwide system of levees is old, poorly designed and in desperate need of repair. CNBC travels to Sacramento, California, one of the areas most at risk for a devastating flood, where residents see the urgency and have voted in favor of a property assessment and additional sales tax to help pay for levee repairs. Despite these investments 100% protection may never be a reality and Mount believes a disaster will inevitably happen.
From the human hardship to the economic impact, the cost of failing infrastructure is grave. CNBC looks at some of the proposed solutions in Washington for this $2 trillion problem. CNBC’s Caruso-Cabrera speaks with the Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood who says there’s a demand for a new long-term transportation bill that will create jobs and build and rebuild America’s infrastructure. The Obama Administration believes they had a solution with the $447 billion American Jobs Act, which was defeated in the Senate. Companies like UPS, directly affected by this problem daily, say the U.S. has no other option but to improve infrastructure or fall behind on the global economic stage.
While the debate rages in Washington, some states are taking matters into their own hands and have found another way to rebuild their highways. CNBC looks at what some think could be the key to solving America’s infrastructure…the leasing of American highways. In Indiana, the private sector is stepping up allowing the state the ability to dig, pave, repair and rebuild everything from roads to bridges and sidewalks, thanks to a nearly $4 billion windfall of cash. But critics argue that this deal isn’t good for the public since the money making these updates possible comes from foreign companies and the tolls paid to use these roads goes overseas. Regardless, public private partnerships (P3’s) are taking shape across the country.
For more information including slideshows and web extras, log onto: infrastructure.cnbc.com.
Scott Matthews is the Vice President of Special Projects, Ray Parisi is the Director of Special Projects and Justin Solomon is the Sr. Producer of “The Race to Rebuild: America’s Infrastructure.” Jamie Corsi is the producer. Nik Deogun is the Senior Vice President and Editor in Chief Business News.
CNBC’s “The Race to Rebuild: American’s Infrastructure” will re-air on Sunday, November 20th at 11PM ET.
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