Erosion Control

Glossing Over the Problem

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At some point, the editors of all of Forester’s publications have addressed the problems with infrastructure in the US: too little funding, too much needing to be done, too many arguments about what should have the highest priority. You can see a roundup here of some industry experts’ opinions.

It seems every country has its own similar-but-different problems with infrastructure. In Italy, it’s the potholes. They’re so bad, and so numerous, that in Rome local residents are taking matters into their own hands—not fixing them, necessarily, but spray-painting big yellow circles around them. Those who are caught in the act face fines. Some of the potholes are so large that, according to this article from the London Sunday Times, people dump their trash into them.

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The painting serves two purposes: One is to embarrass officials into fixing the streets, and a few of the highlighted holes have in fact been filled in. The other, though, is to make the potholes visible to scooter drivers. The mother of a 25-year-old woman who died in May after she lost control of her scooter started a campaign on Facebook to encourage people to paint the potholes in her memory.

The roads aren’t the only thing in need of attention. Many of the city’s public parks are overgrown and filled with trash. A plan to bring in sheep to trim the grass—as is sometimes done here to get rid of excess vegetation—failed after the sheep refused to eat it; it was apparently too dry. EC_bug_web

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  1. Awareness of a problem is not the problem. It is resources. It is true locally here in Sunnyvale, CA as it I would assume in Italy, government knows the problem but cannot fund it adequately. In California as a whole our state highways are in bad shape. The gas tax was raised to begin to tackle the problem but we have conservatives that want to repeal it without any answer to highway maintenance problem but to reapportion existing funding to it. I comes to the matter of allocation of resources. The choice for the elected officials is what to fund with limited resources. There will always be the underfunded needs. I know it not the answer but that’s the reality of it. With climate change California is now dealing with an extended wildfire season (nearly all year somewhere in the state) CALFIRE must get funds to cover these wildfires and the aftermath i.e. Montecito floods. Guess what, there is less funding for California elsewhere. The state has chosen to ‘defer’ highway maintenance. It’s a Catch 22.

  2. As a young scientist and graduate student at UC Davis, my first job was to do a toxicology study for the state’s Office of the Legislative Analyst. The big eye-opener was political environment. I was part of the Joint Budget Committee Staff. I would attend the Senate side of the budget process and watch what I perceived as retarded as teen-agers spinning around in their big leather chairs giggling at how they had just put one over on the taxbase. Vast sums of money went to support subsidy programs that were in place, designed by friends of this or that industry. Many of the laws were so complex and difficult to comprehend that following such programs took months of study. I did a major analysis of the milk subsidy program and animal health. When finally done, it was apparent that the law was so poorly written, yet so complex, that systems were allowed to be depreciated, re-evaluated and re-deprecated again and again to keep the price of milk up. Herds needed to be destroyed because of disease, but one made money having one’s herd destroyed and the tax payer funded it. Issues came up and spending a bit of time in the State Library saw the same issue had been coming up yet again every 4 to 6 years, followed by a big hoopla and study and then forgotten when the heat died down. Many of the regulatory programs were clientele captured.
    The people need to pay more attention, but that’s really unlikely so what goes on in Sacramento is on another planet and the atmosphere is so foreign that the average man on the street is clueless.

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