As mush as I despise the East Coast (especially Bahston), I am happy, although somewhat disappointed, that New York did not get covered by 15 feet of water. I did not wish any particular doom and demise to any city in the path of Irene, but if New York had been decimated, then perhaps we would have finally committed to improving our crumbling infrastructure.
Remember when the bridge in Milwaukee spontaneously collapsed a few years back? Me neither. We Americans have a very short attention span, and dedicating billions of dollars to projects that will hopefully never have visible results (i.e. the structure remains standing, same as always) just isn’t politically popular, and the topic is only raised after a disaster, then quickly forgotten. I had only hoped that the displacement of 7.5 million people might have finally driven the point home.
On Friday morning as I was watching meteorologists describing doomsday scenarios while they were standing on the beach (never have been able to figure out why they can’t just report from the studio), the following thought occurred to me: Since Florida and the Carolinas get hit by hurricanes every year, and by particularly massive hurricanes every 10-20 years, why don’t their coastlines have permanent seawalls? Nothing fancy, just dirt berms reinforced with concrete standing approximately 15-20 feet high to block the storm surge. In fact, why doesn’t the entire Eastern seaboard have permanent seawalls? My guess is they would ruin the view, so the topic has never been raised, but I have no idea. They just seem to me like a reasonable means of mitigating hurricane damage.
Speaking of infrastructure, construction on California’s bullet train is set to begin in 2012, and is projected to be massively overbudget. The train will run from Sacramento to San Diego, traversing roughly two-thirds of the state. The train has not been a popular topic, we Californians having a disproportionate fascination with the automobile, and the cost has made it even less so. I personally love the idea of the train, and will be thrilled when it is finished in 10 years (just in time for my 40th birthday!). I believe that once the train is built, people will realize what a boon it is, and will choose the train over more costly airline flights. We lack a true network of public transportation in California, and hopefully in 10 years we will begin to approach the convenience of travel they have on the East Coast (my envy of your trains is partly responsible for my loathing).
For a final thought on infrastructure, and our lack thereof, I advise you to follow the following link to an article from the Onion (America’s Finest News Source) that humorously drives home the point I’m trying to make.