16 Nov '11, 6pm

U.S. roads are built to break

Why do we have to pour so much of our transportation money into highway infrastructure? Well, because 50 years ago, the U.S. decided to structure roads in a way that was cheap to build but expensive and difficult to maintain. It's the infrastructure equivalent of buying a cheap crappy blender and then having to replace it every year. In the early days of the interstate highway system, most freight went by train. Because highways only had to support private vehicles, the priority was quick, cheap construction, not durability. Once shipping companies took to the streets, their trucks quickly made a hash of the asphalt-over-dirt construction. Heavier vehicles did disproportionate damage to the highways, because they made small leaks in the asphalt into giant, street-eating potholes. When a road is not properly sealed, water or ice can sneak underneath the asphalt, settling in...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-11-16-u.s.-roads-are-built...

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