Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

Biden: “Infrastructure bill has money to fix all bridges”

February 2, 2022

Does it? More broadly, what else is in the infrastructure bill?
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When I heard Biden in Pittsburgh asserting that all bridges would be fixed, I chalked it up as the usual political puffery. No big deal.

But, his claim prompted another self-reaction: I should know what’s in the lauded Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill … and, I don’t.

“Millions of us have grown too comfortable pronouncing ourselves passionate about a problem we don’t bother to understand.” Holman Jenkins, WSJ

So, I did some retrospective digging.

First. the numbers …

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The price tag for the infrastructure bill: $1.2 trillion.

About $650 billion of the $1.2 trillion law is earmarked for existing transportation and highway programs.

Think of that portion as routine annual maintenance expense.

That leaves about $550 billion in “new” spending … most of which will be doled out over the next five years.

click chart to enlarge it 
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Drilling down on the $550 billion of new spending:

> Roughly 2/3’s goes to 5 spending categories: roads & bridges, trains, broadband, electrical grid and water grid

> $110 billion goes to the top category roads & bridges.

An estimated 173,000 miles of roads and 45,000 bridges are in major need of maintenance

Assuming that category’s money is evenly split between roads and bridges, that works out to about $300,000 per mile for needy roads and about $1.25 million per needy bridge.

> About $100 billion (about 20%) of the $550 billion in new spending is sprinkled across initiatives (some specifically listed, some not) that don’t fall in one of the top 10 spending categories listed above.

Call me cynical, but the words that come to mind are “earmarks”, “pet projects”, “kickbacks” and “slush funds”.

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Those are the top-line numbers.

Keep reading for the gory details…

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What if the Russians, North Koreans, Iranians or Mother Nature were to jam GPS satellites?

December 4, 2017

An interesting question posed in a WSJ commentary …
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Answer: We’d be in deep yogurt … and it just wouldn’t be an inability to drive to an unfamiliar destination.

To that point, according to the Department of Homeland Security has identified “18 Critical Infrastructure and Key Resource sectors” … and, 15 of the 18 are GPS-reliant.

That makes sense since the satellite-based Global Positioning System was built primarily for U.S. military ops and then repurposed to civilian applications air traffic control, weather monitoring and precise time-synchronization.

For background, according to NASA:

The Global Positioning System is a United States space-based radionavigation system that helps pinpoint a three dimensional position to about a meter of accuracy (for example latitude, longitude and altitude) and provide nano-second precise time anywhere on Earth.

GPS is currently comprised of a constellation of 24 US government satellites flying in six orbital planes … circling about 12,550 miles above the Earth … monitored by an extensive network of land-based receiving stations.

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So, what’s our Plan B if the satellite-based GPS system goes down?

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