Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fixing The Infrastructure

      In my blog “Will The Real Barack Obama Please Stand Up” on February 7, I mentioned that the President does not seem to be very enthusiastic on infrastructure spending, and that he has tended to push that off on the states. I think infrastructure spending is a veritable gold mine for job creation.
      Chicago road crews are scrambling to fix 67,000 potholes a month. Communities in Pennsylvania rely on 100-year-old water pipes made of wood. Squirrels still cause widespread blackouts. The country’s 600,000 bridges, 4 million miles of roads and 30,000 wastewater plants desperately need attention. The solution isn’t patches, it’s an overhaul. [Popular Science, February, 2010.] The article also suggests some of the fixes available - some soon, some not so soon. Here are a few examples:
      A professor at the University of Michigan has developed a concrete that senses the carbon dioxide and water in small cracks, and causes a chemical reaction that repairs the crack.
      When certain toxins, lead, arsenic, anthrax and PCBs are present in water, certain non-toxic bacteria can detect their presence and emanate a phosphorescent glow. A monitoring station can measure the glow and determine precisely how much toxin is present. The system is 2 - 5 years away.
      More electrical wires can be put underground. New cables have been developed which can carry up to a quarter more current without adding any more bulky insulation.
      New flexible fiber-optic cables have been developed which keep the photons in the line no matter how much it is twisted or bent.
      Robots are being developed that use a laser to spot leaks in sewage lines.
      These are just a few of the suggestions offered that would prop up our sagging infrastructure. Even if none of them pan out, there is no question about the need to do something. And even more importantly in the present situation, repairing and updating the infrastructure by any means promises lots of jobs, jobs, jobs.

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