Thinking Big

My local newspaper’s lead story today concerned the explosive demolition of a highway bridge in nearby Tionesta, PA. As luck would have it, our most recent Sunday afternoon meander took us through that construction zone and we marveled at how much tax money was going into such a lightly traveled roadway. Apparently traffic is terrible during the summer tourist season; or perhaps important folks have vacation homes in the area. A wonderful four-lane bridge is almost ready to open.

Large sections of our country have been damaged by hurricanes this year and pundits are predicting it may take years to rebuild the infrastructure. I blogged a few months ago about the critical state of infrastructure encountered in my own travels to New York City. There is so much to be done — and the debate over who will pay for it is ongoing.

New methods and good planning are going to be needed. A bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike was replaced and made ready for use in one epic 80-hour outage last month. It was not a huge bridge, but it was critical to that community; a long, conventional project was not practical.

Necessity is still the mother of invention. Why aren’t we embracing this opportunity in places like Puerto Rico? Instead of rebuilding that destroyed electrical grid couldn’t we outfit the island with wind-, solar-, and biofuel-distributed power? We have the technology. We should not allow entrenched industries to hold us back.

I doubt the whaling industry was happy when Colonel Drake struck oil in Titusville in 1859. Twenty some years later the gas light utilities were very annoyed that electric lighting was “stealing their business.” Where would we be if the “horse industry” had been in a position to block the “good roads” movement of the early 20th century?

About Charles D. Schultz 478 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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