The destructive force unleashed by the Hurricane Sandy provides ample proof of how quickly our physical infrastructure can be overwhelmed by weather-related events. Your article “Scientists want city to gird for storms” (Page A1, Nov. 2) should be a wakeup call for those in Congress who continue to downplay the role of global warming and continue to block any real efforts to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. The nation’s roads, bridges, dams, and transit systems continue to receive marginal or failing grades by the American Society of Civil Engineers. But when you consider the added stress imposed by weather events, the picture becomes even gloomier.
Just thinking about the staggering cost to repair the storm damage in New York and New Jersey, it becomes quite evident that not only do we need to fix what’s already broken; we need to prepare for future events of similar or greater intensity.
The new Congress should assign high national priority to building our deteriorating infrastructure. A national task force consisting of federal agencies such as the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and experts from academia and the private sector should be entrusted with developing meaningful plans to rebuild our infrastructure that not only strengthen our economic competitiveness but are capable of withstanding the impact of weather-related events.
The writer is a professor of construction management at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and was commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission.