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The Infrastructure Equation

Looking south above :en:Interstate 80, the Eas...
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I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week considering the role of senior levels of government in providing funding to municipalities for infrastructure projects, and how these funds are distributed. It has been acknowledged across North America that the infrastructure deficit is one of the most pressing limitations to the long term sustainability of our energy, water and transportation networks.

Now, if you’re like me, and consider that the propping up and continuation of the automobile age may not be the most sustainable thing around, you have to start considering how the government can invest in projects that have long-term, universal community value. Water projects top my list in areas where communities can be sustained, but there is still a good case for road remediation projects, (where the pavement is old or failing), as the ongoing usefulness of transportation routes such as roads is not clear, but one can assume that the road right of ways in local areas will still occupy an important role in the social and economic structure of urban areas. In suburbs, the case is definitely not as clear. Pavement quality is an indicator of lifespan, but in many areas, the lifespan of the suburb is likely less than that of the pavement. The End of Suburbia is a topic that is rarely discussed outside of planning circles, but most of our population lives in areas that could be categorized as suburbs, and if they are liekly to come to an end due to declining oil supplies, why are we continuing to prop them up?

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One part of the infrastructure equation that has been sorely neglected in recent decades is the railway, should funds earmarked for road improvements go instead to railway renewal projects? Another question I have is why we don’t consider agriculture to be a critical part of our social infrastructure?

Surely it’s about time for a document to be leaked from some federal government source that shows that the politicians are fully aware of the predicament that we face but are making no efforts other than to pacify the masses.

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Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.