Thoughts on the Engineering Industry

A blog covering engineering, technology and business topics

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

The state of infrastructure funding and the crisis in Flint, Michigan

Hello everyone, I know I’ve been away for awhile.  The truth is that I have trouble staying motivated with my blogpost, but hopefully this will be the start of a more productive year though.  As many of you know, there has been an infrastructure crisis going on in Flint, Michigan that is very serious and was very preventable.  There has been plenty of coverage on the crisis and the root causes of the whole situation there, but I wanted discuss a couple themes that are indicative of our problematic infrastructure policy in the U.S.

The initial fact that jumped out at me in the coverage is that engineers knew that this crisis would occur when the city of Flint, Michigan went through with its proposed plan.  It is one thing to go with a more budget appropriate option to resolve an engineering issue within a city.  Most engineers believe that it is better to have a higher quality engineering system in most cases.  We also realize that it isn’t always within the budget to do so. However, that does not mean that we reduce the quality of the engineering systems such that public lives are at risk.  To do so is to not only break our engineering code of ethics, but to also commit a criminal act and should at least warrant a loss of your professional engineering license.  In my opinion, the professionals involved with this project should have taken any and all actions to prevent the city from going through with these plans.

Furthermore, the fact that the city pushed for this unsafe plan, let alone considered it, is irresponsible of the city government.  In the least, the safety of all it’s residents should be the local, state, and federal government’s main concern.  That’s why we have police officers, fire fighters, social workers, etc.; because the government is an organization that is run for and by the people.  By placing the budgetary concerns before the safety of the residents of Flint, Michigan, the local government broke that implicit agreement and has failed as a government agency.

Additionally, the fact that they felt this pressure at all is indicative of a problematic policy in regards infrastructure spending as a whole.  In my opinion, there a some areas of responsibility that the government should not have strict budgetary constraint.  Most of them have to do with public/citizen health and safety.  Some of those organizations are obvious to identify such as police officers and fire fighters.  There are also some areas that indirectly affect public safety.  In my opinion, one of those areas is infrastructure, and we are failing on multiple counts.  There are bridges that are structurally deficient – a few that have collapsed endangering the public.  There was Hurricane Katrina where the failure of critical flood prevention infrastructure due lack of maintenance contributed to a massive loss of life in the days following the natural disaster.  The crisis in Flint, Michigan is another bullet point on a list failures that have recently occurred in regards to infrastructure maintenance and funding.

Moving forward from the Flint, Michigan crisis, I believe there needs to be a focus on improving infrastructure management on all government levels.  The situation in regards to the infrastructure management in the U.S. has gotten to the point that the safety of the public is increasingly at risk and it is unacceptable that this should be the case.

What are your opinions on the Flynt, Michigan crisis moving forward?  What steps should be taken to improve the situation overall?   If you enjoyed my post, hit the like button, follow my blog for updates and share this post with your friends.  Thanks for reading and have a good week!

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