Infrastructure

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34,151
Location
Southern NJ
Recently a group of engineers gave the country a C- for the state of our infrastructure. Why doesn't the U.S. invest in highspeed rail? What are we doing? The estimated cost over the next ten years is $5.9T for needed upgrades to our infrastructure.

From a guy I know that was in China recently:

"I'm on the train from New York to Washington, for a speech at the Claremont Institute. It's my first long-distance trip in a year, and I'd forgotten the sad state of our infrastructure. The Acela feels like the inside of a washing machine during spin cycle. Typing is almost impossible, reading the computer screen just barely possible. The train was late because only one of two tunnels out of Manhattan is operating. Meanwhile China has 24,000 miles of high-speed trains that barely vibrate at 300 km/hour. And China is building even faster Mag-Lev trains that will take you from Shanghai to Beijing in three hours. Catch-up ball doesn't begin to describe it."

It is costly and it appears most prefer air travel.
China is also building their infrastructure during modern times where ours is older.
Do we need to upgrade to highspeed rail?
 

OVERKILL

$100 Site Donor 2021
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45,812
Location
Ontario, Canada
Pointedly: China is using your money to build that infrastructure.

We've lost the ability properly execute large infrastructure projects in the west. We rested on our laurels while sending manufacturing overseas. This is the result. This is what a "service-based economy" looks like and the industrial exodus isn't even complete yet. China is building rail, nuclear reactors, their own telecom giants (Huawei for example)...etc. They are becoming, or have become, a much larger version of what the US was back in the 1960's when the SR-71 blackbird went from slide rule to soaring over enemy territory with impunity seemingly overnight. When the US built the largest fleet of nuclear-powered vessels, when the US built 100+ nuke plants. The fact Vogtle has taken a decade+ and $25 billion is just a symptom of a much bigger illness.

Western consumers have embraced this. There are even members here speaking with excitement about the potential for low-priced Chinese EV's. Reminds me a bit of that "Patriot" dad from Problem Child where he's selling out his "all American" business to foreign interests and quite proud of this, while the backdrop is "all American" flag waving pomp.
 
Messages
1,793
Location
SW Ontario Canada
When corporate America changes the mindset of only planning for the next 2-4 quarters, there will be no general population tolerance for any politician to introduce big plans for infrastructure with consequent big costs. You see infrastructure spending in countries that have given their population a clear insight of what the country needs for the greater good, even if this will not benefit the voters immediately.
 

buster

Thread starter
Messages
34,151
Location
Southern NJ
Pointedly: China is using your money to build that infrastructure.

We've lost the ability properly execute large infrastructure projects in the west. We rested on our laurels while sending manufacturing overseas. This is the result. This is what a "service-based economy" looks like and the industrial exodus isn't even complete yet. China is building rail, nuclear reactors, their own telecom giants (Huawei for example)...etc. They are becoming, or have become, a much larger version of what the US was back in the 1960's when the SR-71 blackbird went from slide rule to soaring over enemy territory with impunity seemingly overnight. When the US built the largest fleet of nuclear-powered vessels, when the US built 100+ nuke plants. The fact Vogtle has taken a decade+ and $25 billion is just a symptom of a much bigger illness.

Western consumers have embraced this. There are even members here speaking with excitement about the potential for low-priced Chinese EV's. Reminds me a bit of that "Patriot" dad from Problem Child where he's selling out his "all American" business to foreign interests and quite proud of this, while the backdrop is "all American" flag waving pomp.

Agree and good points.
 
Messages
1,013
Location
California
In California...the phrase "High-speed" rail is the absolute butt end of jokes and corruption, on so many levels I don't have the patience to list them!

Ed
 
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5,534
Location
NJ
It's a very complicated question. Hard to compare the USA to China. Amtrack doesn't get much love from American tax payers. Most feel we're better off spending the trillion dollars to upgrade our roads and bridges instead of building high speed lines between cities.
 
Messages
506
Location
Canadia
I don't claim to know how the math works out in terms of amortizing the costs, but on the surface it makes a ton of sense to me. I have seen how well trains work as compared to cars in a municipal setting (Skytrain in Vancouver, LRT in Edmonton), and can only imagine what that would look like on a larger, inter-city scale.

I wonder how one would even begin to do the math on gained productivity (getting work done instead of actively driving), among all of the other benefits of such a system.
 

buster

Thread starter
Messages
34,151
Location
Southern NJ
It's a very complicated question. Hard to compare the USA to China. Amtrack doesn't get much love from American tax payers. Most feel we're better off spending the trillion dollars to upgrade our roads and bridges instead of building high speed lines between cities.
That's a valid point. I'd be ok with even just that. Air is still faster. Would I take a highspeed train if it were available? Absolutely.
 
Messages
17,748
Location
NH
We've lost the will to do these things.
That is an interesting thought. I wasn't around when we made nuclear subs and carriers for the first time, or made the interstate system, or put a man on the moon. Was the nation "excited" to do those things, or was that the government pushing to do those things apart (indifferent) from what the public wanted?

Our nation seems rather split: half wants more government, half wants less. No real consensus. Not sure what China's population wants--but I'm guessing that tends not to be a factor in how their government makes choices. That can make a difference in these large scale projects, no?
 
Messages
5,529
Location
Atlanta,GA
Recently a group of engineers gave the country a C- for the state of our infrastructure. Why doesn't the U.S. invest in highspeed rail? What are we doing? The estimated cost over the next ten years is $5.9T for needed upgrades to our infrastructure.

From a guy I know that was in China recently:

"I'm on the train from New York to Washington, for a speech at the Claremont Institute. It's my first long-distance trip in a year, and I'd forgotten the sad state of our infrastructure. The Acela feels like the inside of a washing machine during spin cycle. Typing is almost impossible, reading the computer screen just barely possible. The train was late because only one of two tunnels out of Manhattan is operating. Meanwhile China has 24,000 miles of high-speed trains that barely vibrate at 300 km/hour. And China is building even faster Mag-Lev trains that will take you from Shanghai to Beijing in three hours. Catch-up ball doesn't begin to describe it."

It is costly and it appears most prefer air travel.
China is also building their infrastructure during modern times where ours is older.
Do we need to upgrade to highspeed rail?
Highspeed rail is a money loser. It's just ungodly expensive to build and maintain. It why almost all if not all of them require heavy state subsidies. Once you add all the additional stops and track crowding high-speed turns to low-speed.

The system in China is new, heavily subsidized, and they figuratively lay track where they want it regardless of whether or not your house is in the way.
 

buster

Thread starter
Messages
34,151
Location
Southern NJ
That is an interesting thought. I wasn't around when we made nuclear subs and carriers for the first time, or made the interstate system, or put a man on the moon. Was the nation "excited" to do those things, or was that the government pushing to do those things apart (indifferent) from what the public wanted?

Our nation seems rather split: half wants more government, half wants less. No real consensus. Not sure what China's population wants--but I'm guessing that tends not to be a factor in how their government makes choices. That can make a difference in these large scale projects, no?
Totally agree and am on the same page with your questions.
 
Messages
414
Location
Rochester, NY
North America doesn't have the population density to make high-speed rail economical. Maybe in selects urban areas, like the NE corridor or SoCal. Also, Corporations only plans a few quarters ahead, and our Gov't representatives only see as far as their next election cycle. Those representatives also know that tax cuts make them more electable than investments in infrastructure do.
 
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7,984
Location
MI
Our nation seems rather split: half wants more government, half wants less. No real consensus.
Not only that, but we have a huge chunk of population (media claims 1/3) that doesn't want change. Without getting into politics, a lot of people are in an uproar about moving away from fossil fuels and towards other alternatives. They want the cheap fossil fuel always, with no regard to the future. The term short sighted aligns with other comments here about planning for only 3 or 4 months ahead.
 
Messages
17,748
Location
NH
Not only that, but we have a huge chunk of population (media claims 1/3) that doesn't want change. Without getting into politics, a lot of people are in an uproar about moving away from fossil fuels and towards other alternatives. They want the cheap fossil fuel always, with no regard to the future. The term short sighted aligns with other comments here about planning for only 3 or 4 months ahead.
Avoiding politics also: Good point, I should split it three ways, diagonal one, middle, diagonal two. [Thereby avoiding left&right, up&down as directions to take offense at.] There's always a good chunk of people who don't care or don't want to change, in addition to the those advocating for moving in one of the two directions.

I still think my question still stands though: how did we do those large projects in the past? Hoover Dam, the space shuttle, man on the moon. Were we more united, or was there just less opposition? maybe people cared less and just let politicians make decisions instead? whereas today, more voters are at least voting one way or the other, in response to various decisions.
 
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17,075
Location
Silicon Valley
Loaded question, the answers are 1) HSR does not work over super long distance for our lowish population density. By lowish I mean most of our less than 1M population city would be considered 3rd tier in China. They have a lot of people working away from home town and need a massive infrastructure to move. Air would not cut it, you need rail. 2) They have to import airplanes and oil to do air travel like we do in the US, so they would strategically try to avoid relying on air travel and gasoline privately owned passenger cars as their infrastructure. HSR is the key for them, it make sense as their infrastructure is old after getting out of their communism days with Soviet tech. 3) Construction cost in US and Europe is VERY HIGH compare to China. It is also well known that large projects get into politics and corruptions. Just look at Texas, they would rather do toll road than massive paid for public highways, what do you think we would want to do with the expensive high speed rail? We likely won't want to pay for it outside of a small part of the nation.

Our bridges and highways are old though, they will continue to deteriorate and I think most likely we will not replace them all. What we may do is just let them rot and turn the nearby area into a slum, and build in new area. This is typical in old area in America, someone will live there and eventually when they all rot we will revive it when it is cheap, via market economy. Most places in China is either former farmland to build on or old city centers that need to be bulldozed and start new anyways, it is cheaper, and they have the efficiency of a dictatorship to back that (this is one area that dictatorship is good), just like how Singapore clean out the overcrowded slum by building new government housing, with policy that prevent them from turning back into slums. It works.
 
Messages
740
Location
FL
Panda,

China built a highway in Jamaica a few years ago.

Maybe in 20 years China will be contracted to rebuild the rust belt infrastructure in the USA.... ?
 
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Messages
3,662
Location
Chicagoland
Part of it is the pervasive “Not In My Backyard” mentality in the US, and the driving culture we do have in the US. Public transport makes more sense in heavier populated areas, but the places like Midwest are so spread out it wouldn’t really work... if I have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to get to a train station or whatever, I may as well make a road trip out of it. An 8-9 hour car ride to Georgia for example isn’t “that” bad IMO.
 
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