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Infrastructure

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Forum' started by Shenexon, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. Shenexon

    Shenexon All Conference

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    I'd like to ask for thoughts on what folks here think constitutes our infrastructure, as it is mentioned a lot but not really discussed. What is infrastructure and how best to promote it?

    I believe that the most important function of our government is to create or facilitate the complex infrastructure that supports our society and civilized world. I've been traveling in Italy and Greece for the past couple of months and note how the great cultures of Rome and Greece became great through the infrastructure they created that made their societies dynamic.

    Rome became great through the development of water systems, transportation systems, creation of markets and public facilities, and civic planning, at least in my perspective. I think other great civilizations were similarly driven.

    In our era, our infrastructure is a key to our success as well. Communication, power, transportation, financial, and many other structural technologies are easy to see as driving the infrastructure of our age, but we seem to neglect some parts over others.

    As an example, I'd note that public transportation is far more available in italy than in the US, and much cheaper though is heavily subsidized. It's also utilized to a far greater degree. I've been able to travel all over Italy at a fraction of the cost of much shorter trips in the US. Mass transit is available to a wide degree and seems to be efficient and widely used. Fast trains can take you all over Italy at incredible speeds. It's pretty cool to safely travel at 180+ mph on trains that run hourly on many routes. Why is that not a good idea in the US?

    Our failure to see the benefit of actively promoting that kind of infrastructure will limit us in the long run, especially in the areas starved for growth. National defense isn't just about military might.

    I also believe there are very human infrastructure elements that have made us strong. I believe it's to everyone's benefit that our population is healthy, educated, fed, and housed. How we get there is a great subject of debate, but poverty, malnutrition, ignorance, and homelessness are a poor means to maintain the dynamic nature of our society.

    When we consider the need of our society to develop and maintain our infrastructure, I think it's dangerous to neglect all aspects of what that means.

    Our success is dependent upon how broadly we can tailor infrastructure for the majority of Americans, not only those that are the most competitive, advantaged, or who have the greatest access to the infrastructures of our coastal and urban areas.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. cmr27

    cmr27 All Conference

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    Great post. I've done Rome-Milan many times by train. It's wonderful. I have no idea why high-speed rail has not caught on in the United States. Republicans generally have an aversion to it for cost and eminent domain reasons. This strikes me as short-sighted. The flip side is that the track record of bringing in high speed rail projects close to budget is poor. I'm thinking of California's ongoing project here. But that doesn't mean we should stop trying. The "Texas Triangle," "Piedmont Corridor" and "Chicago-St Louis" would seem perfect for high-speed rail. I suppose one final factor is that Americans just really, really like driving in cars.
     
  3. Noexcuse

    Noexcuse All American

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    I think this has a lot to do with it. The U.S. invested heavily in the Interstate System during the 50's and 60's at the same time the railroads were falling into disuse and disrepair. Now the Interstate System is deteriorating (I 81 through Syracuse for instance) and a lot of infrastructure spending will be needed to repair and replace outdated highways and bridges.
     
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  4. Rage4CUSE

    Rage4CUSE All Conference

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    Cars have literally become a status symbol in our culture. All other transportation is going to lose until that changes.
     
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  5. cmr27

    cmr27 All Conference

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    I agree. A high-speed rail line between Buffalo-Rochester-Syr-Albany-NYC still would be great. This is where we get into the tyranny of the data scientists. They'd quickly argue there aren't enough riders to justify the investment. Which is probably true but that hasn't stopped Europe from creating viable non-obvious geographic connections in a way that "1+1=3." If the average high-speed rail does 120-160 mph, then I can go Cuse to NYC in somewhere under 2 hours plus stops. That probably has multiple benefits for everyone.

    Then there's a larger trend to consider. We're becoming a nation of megalopolis. It's important to get connected into a mega-region (Kinda like getting into a P5 conference). High-speed rails makes longer connections into megaregions possible. The current rail system doesn't seem fast or efficient enough.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. OrangeFoo

    OrangeFoo All Conference

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    Infrastructure spending is great... as people have pointed out our road and bridge system is in total disrepair. But what's even worse is our water system which is ridiculously outdated. Also the national grid needs a lot of work. The biggest opportunity we have is to turn our entire energy infrastructure green but the problem is that the repugs have turned the word green into an evil thing because they have made it equivalent to job losses or slowing down growth. They are too stupid to realize the opportunity green tech represents... or to give them credit they are too loyal to their corporate overlords in the fossil fuel business.

    I've rambled but the point is infrastructure spending is good but it needs to be much much more than transportation. We are lacking infrastructure in just about every area we can think of but the problem again is that middle america has been trained to think infrastructure spending is government overreach and refused to vote for it even if it will help them in the long run.
     
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  7. Noexcuse

    Noexcuse All American

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    Give Trump his due. He pointed out correctly in his campaign that the US is a Third World Country when it comes to infrastructure. My fear though is his focus will be on things like airports which he mentioned over and over again on the campaign trail and will neglect the less obvious and visible infrastructure projects like the grid, water and data systems.
     
  8. OttoMets

    OttoMets Living Legend

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    In a certain, large sub-culture, I agree. In addition to the power of the status symbol in some circles, the automobile is so heavily subsidized by government policy. Other modes, especially rail, can't compete with that.
     
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  9. MiniCuse

    MiniCuse All Conference

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    Start in Flint.
     
  10. OrangeFoo

    OrangeFoo All Conference

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    My concern with Trump is that a) he's a liar b) he's going to do in a way such that his cronies will make money and the average person gets screwed because that's what he has done his whole life and c) he's going to give tax credits and not cash.
     
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  11. Toga

    Toga Living Legend

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    If you look around you see poles and wires everywhere above you. It's like we're in the 1920s.
     
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  12. OttoMets

    OttoMets Living Legend

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    Big peeve of mine: overhead utilities.

    W T , we've advanced this far as a society and we're so cheap that we can't underground all of our lines? Our national priorities are messed up in a lot of ways. This is minor, but it's another one for the list.
     
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  13. Hoo's That

    Hoo's That All American

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    Moving them underground costs money and reduces the annual payout to the shareholders. That violates U of Chicago Econ Dep't.'s model that the company is supposed to be the shareholders' cash cow. "If we reduce our dividend, they'll move their money to someone who doesn't."
     
  14. Toga

    Toga Living Legend

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    [​IMG]
     
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  15. NKR1978

    NKR1978 Living Legend

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    I don't get it. I love being able to commute by train. Get to read, close my eyes, etc. Some days it's stressful, but no worse than sitting in traffic and actually having to pay attention.
     
  16. cmr27

    cmr27 All Conference

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    Couldn't agree more. I've had many a good trip on commuter rail with a mini-bottle of wine and good book. It's much better than car.
     
  17. MiniCuse

    MiniCuse All Conference

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    I've ridden the "bullet" train from Marseilles to Paris once. Pretty cool flying through the French countryside. No time for books on that trip, however. We were in port, so the train had a high concentration of sailors and only two (soon dry) bar cars. Some of the frenchies may have experienced some stress.

    I would love to see high speed train systems and commuter express trains in the U.S., especially up and down the East Coast corridor. Hop on the train, no congestion, no TSA cavity search, two hours later you're wherever for a nice weekend.

    I enjoy driving so the more zombies on the train, the better. It improves the odds I'll have a nicer drive and not get side-swiped by some moron looking at their Me-phone instead of the road.
     
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  18. cusefan88

    cusefan88 Starter

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    I used the Renfe AVE train in Spain. Road only a portion but you can do Barcelona to Madrid in 2hrs 30mins. It was great. Seats were comfy and a smooth ride. Tickets were reasonable enough price wise.
     
  19. Cowtown

    Cowtown Resident Frostback Interface

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    Public/mass transit works better in older, eastern cities in which the development has been quite vertical and that have dense populations. Much of their development occurred before the personal car became so prominent. And most major western cities were developed after the invention of the car, so they were developed with the car in mind. Public transit will always be less successful in those places.
     
  20. Toga

    Toga Living Legend

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    How are the Rome- Florence and Florence - Venice trains?
     
  21. cmr27

    cmr27 All Conference

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    Never did those routes. I was almost always on business and Florence/Venice aren't big financial centers (somewhere, Cosimo de'Medici just turned over in his grave). Most of my action was/is in Rome, Milan and Bologna. I did take a train from Venice to Cortina once and wouldn't recommend it unless you speak fluent Italian and know the terrain. They stopped putting English on the station signs about half way through the Dolomites. My Italian is slightly passable but it didn't matter. The signage stopped all together a little later. We literally guessed at which station to disembark. This was like three years ago, mind you.

    If you are in the market, Italiarail probably does Venice-Florence and I've always had a great experience on their Rome-Milan route.
     
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  22. MiniCuse

    MiniCuse All Conference

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    The wife and I took a European cruise a few years ago. We stayed in Rome a few days before the ship departed. We took the Trenitalia Frecciarossa line up to Florence to look at David and eat gelato. You pay a little more for the better train service but it's worth the cost. They're nice modern trains, fast and comfortable with Wifi and internet service. We bought our tickets in advance, it's easy to do on their website.

    FRECCIAROSSA run through the high-speed line with fast and frequent connections - Frecce - Trenitalia
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017
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  23. Toga

    Toga Living Legend

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    The signage - confusion issue sounds a bit like trying to drive in northern New Jersey.
     
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  24. cmr27

    cmr27 All Conference

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    Yeah, it's like the Route 17/4 interchange but without signs and before they widened the road. Think fast!
     
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  25. Hoo's That

    Hoo's That All American

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    I rode that train, too. Really, really nice. Almost missed the stop in Barcelona and ended up in France because of confused instructions!