It’s too early to give the Obama administration any grades, but the nation’s infrastructure is another story. The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report last week assigning a low mark of D for America’s bridges and roads. It’s worth thinking about the next time someone in Congress yells about pork barrel spending.

One in four of the nation’s bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete say the Engineers. Another word for that is Dangerous. One third of the country’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition — which is to say Dangerous, again. Because of aging systems, billions of gallons of untreated waste-water end up in streams and rivers every year. Billions of gallons. Does anyone hear disease?

The Civil Engineers give the state of the nation’s levees its very own D minus and note that many of America’s 100,000 miles of levees are over 50 years old. Not so reassuringly, they say their reliability is unknown. The cost of repairing the levees? $100 billion. The cost of not repairing them — well, ask anyone from New Orleans.

According to reports, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Wash is seeking to add $25 billion in infrastructure projects for highways, mass transit, and water.

No doubt the right will be yelling pork all the way to the very next bailed out bank.

To keep things in perspective, $25 billion’s nice, but it’s nowhere near the $2.2 trillion that the engineers say we need over just the next five years.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.

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