How often do you think about the roads you drive on or the bridges you cross?
If the answer is ‘not much’, consider yourself fortunate. The United States is facing a serious degradation of its national highways, roads and bridges, with projections expecting these rates to only get worse as the country’s budget gets allocated toward other areas. Civil engineering is the function of managing and constructing the world to be more accessible to all, from an act as massive as a new bridge to something as simple as filling up a pothole. Building development is going to be seeing a lot of strain over the next few years as it attempts to catch up to a growing percentage that gets worse by the day.
Civil engineering management oversees changes made to the American landscape and adjusts where necessary. Building development also relies on the aid of photogrammetry to provide accurate photograph analysis of the land and structures in question. Structural design not only takes into account the land that will be used up, but the average amount of people a road or bridge will handle in a given day (not including more active holidays). According to recent studies, the importance of transportation planning is only getting more needed from here.
It’s thought as much as 25% of bridges in the country either need significant repairs or are handling much more traffic than they are designed to carry. Civil engineer services are required to judge the state of a bridge through a combination of tried-and-true techniques and advanced technology, as it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to gauge by sight alone. The temporary bridge is a construction that can be built in a matter of days and act as a placeholder while the permanent model is being painstakingly created. This building development can cross over with the paltry state of American’s roads.
American roads are some of the most traveled in the world. They have to sustain a massive country of millions of people and hold up not just to the test of time, but bad weather and frequent accidents. While many car accidents are caused by vehicle negligence and drunk driving, a more insidious contributor is the state of disrepair many roads have found themselves in. It’s estimated a third of all highway fatalities are related to substandard road conditions (such as potholes, cracks or narrow pathways). Obsolete road signs are also a major hazard that can confused drivers and encourage a head-on collision.
Sewer systems may not bear the same foot traffic or car traffic of roads and bridges, but their ability to fall apart under stress is just as constant. America’s sewer systems are rapidly aging and, as of today, spill around one trillion gallons of untreated sewage on a yearly basis. This is more than just a mess, as untreated sewage is highly toxic to both humans and surrounding animal life. By the time 2020 arrives it’s thought every major American container port will be handling double the volume it was originally designed for. This means more communities struggling with the aftermath of poor design, with their health and security following suit.
These figures only get worse and worse. It’s thought half of all of America’s interstate miles are at 70% of traffic capacity, with 25% strained at a staggering 95% capacity more often than not. When 2020 arrives up to half of the assets in wastewater facilities might be beyond the midpoint of their useful lives. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided additional statistics stating drinking water facilities need to invest over $335 billion over the next 20 years to address the needs of deteriorating infrastructure. The top engineering consulting companies have a lot of work to do in the meantime.
Building development and transportation planning are needed to keep the country running smoothly. With the aid of lidar surveying and geotechnical design firms we can not just catch up, but finally move ahead.