Sunday, May 03, 2009

Infrastructure hooey

Why is it that those billed as press critics or media critics tend to be the kind of skeptical, take-nothing-at-face-value, dig-a-bit-deeper, go beyond the official story types that journalists pretend to be or should be more than most journalists are? Here's the invaluable Jack Shafer at Slate, shedding some welcome light on the latest infrastructure-is-crumbling storyline, which most media have put forward. It turns out that according to a 2006 report by the US FOT's Federal Highway Administration:

"Structural deficiencies are characterized by deteriorated conditions of significant bridge elements and reduced load carrying capacity. Functional obsolescence is a function of the geometrics of the bridge not meeting current design standards. Neither type of deficiency indicates that the bridge is unsafe. [Emphasis added.]

Keep that in mind when you read stories about crumbling infrastructure. It's not crumbling, but may need to have weight limits -- or bridges built in the 1930s may not have as much clearance as modern bridges, etc.

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