America’s Infrastructure: Decaying and a National Disgrace

America’s infrastructure: Decaying and a National Disgrace
The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a 2013 report on the status of our nation’s roads, bridges, levees, dams, ports, and airports. This report gave each of these pieces of infrastructure a grade from A-F. The highest grade awarded was one C+, followed by three C’s, and four D’s. The report states that just 38% of the roads in America are in good condition while 11% of our bridges are structurally deficient. The report clearly states that all parts of our nation’s infrastructure needs to be significantly repaired and modernized. It’s estimated that it will take approximately $85 billion annually just to modernize our roads and bridges and that the total bill could run as high as $3.6 trillion. The movement of people and goods by land, water and air is vital to our nation’s existence. The Romans recognized the importance of uniting their empire and they built approximately 400,000km of an elaborate system of roads to move their armies, government officials, and trade goods to all corners of their vast empire. Also, Germany prior to World War II was engaged in building a system of roads or Autobahns which were later used to move military equipment. General Eisenhower realized the value of the Autobahns and when he became President he embarked in 1956 to begin building our interstate highway system of approximately 49,000 miles to unite our nation. Today, roads and bridges make up two parts of our infrastructure that is decaying before our very eyes. We need to rebuild our infrastructure and we need White House and Congressional leadership to mobilize a national public works effort to modernize our infrastructure. This effort will create thousands of good-paying skilled jobs right here in America for Americans. We’ll use American steel, concrete, machinery and expertise to revitalize American manufacturing capability and rebuild our industrial base. The money spent to create this public works project will come from putting people back to work in skilled positions thus drastically reducing unemployment compensation and the welfare rolls. Plus, this effort would provide jobs and increased revenues for all 50 states. All that is needed is for our leaders to recognize that we have a massive infrastructure problem and that we must take action now by implementing a strategy that is good for Americans and America. If we can find money to build roads in Afghanistan, why can’t we find the money to build roads in America?
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Mr. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit

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2 Responses to America’s Infrastructure: Decaying and a National Disgrace

  1. Good article. You are right. Our infrastructure needs much work and we are continuing to fall behind.

    Fortunately, Pennsylvania has set a new direction for our transportaiton system in PA with the passing of the Transportation Funding Bill. Unfortunately, the public does not understand how the funds will be raised and why they are needed.

    I followed discussions on the bill for about a year. What I heard and read was a good program developed by some “fresh people” who looked at the problem from a business perspective, and know what they are doing. The Secretary of Transportation for PA, Barry Schoch, is the best one we have ever had in PA, without exaggeration. A leader extraordinaire. I worked with him when we hired him out of Penn State as a Highway Engineer. We knew then he was something special. A leadership mantle was obvious. He was instrumental in developing the bill under the leadership of Gov. Corbett.

    I reconnected with Barry in 2012, and I did a video interview with him because I saw his leadership in the development of the Transportation Funding Bill. I saw the response of PennDot employees to him that was greatly positive like never before because of how he communicated with them. Here is a link where you can view the interview:

    PA’s Transportation Funding Plan is going to be explosive for PA. Projects will be large, bundled where possible (200 to 300 short bridges in single public-private partnership packages). The funding plan has built in growth like we have never had in transportaiton funding. No more one shot of funding that runs out and cannot serve into the future.

    The general public only sees what they think is a “gas tax”. That is not what it is. But it’s too detailed to explain to the average citizen in a few words. I am not a supporter of many government programs because I know how they go. I have worked in them and seen government inefficiency. But I can support Transportation Funding Bill because I have read it, heard discussins of its content, and I know that Barry Schoch is a very good leader who knows what he is doing. He’s done it in business and now he’s doing it in government. That’s a good change for us tax payers.

    It could be that PA’s Transportation Fundng Plan could be a model for other states.

    There’s more, but I’ll stop here.

    Thanks for the post.

    Jim Barbush

    • paulokum says:

      Jim, thank you for this comment. it is very informative and I enjoyed your interview of Barry Schoch. I thought you did a good job interviewing him. The PA Transportation Plan seems on track and to the point. thanks for sharing.

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