America is literally falling apart around us. Roads, built decades ago, are littered with potholes from carrying ten times the number of cars they were designed to carry. Crumbling Cold War–era gas pipes are exploding. One in nine of the country’s bridges is structurally deficient. And some dam or levee is always just one rainstorm away from wiping out a neighborhood.
After decades of decline, public spending on infrastructure is at its lowest since 1947. State and local governments, which account for about three-quarters of the nation’s infrastructure spending, have been slashing their budgets and putting off repairs. And the Highway Trust Fund, which relies on the federal gas tax for cash, is starved for resources. In its last assessment of the country’s infrastructure, the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the US a D+, estimating it would take $3.6 trillion to upgrade the country’s infrastructure by 2020.