David Stockman Ruins The Perennial Myth Of Crumbling Infrastructure

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by David Stockman via Contra Corner blog,

Whenever the beltway bandits run low on excuses to run-up the national debt they trot out florid tales of crumbling infrastructure—that is, dilapidated roads, collapsing bridges, failing water and sewer systems, inadequate rail and public transit and the rest. This is variously alleged to represent a national disgrace, an impediment to economic growth and a sensible opportunity for fiscal “stimulus”.

But most especially it presents a  swell opportunity for Washington to create millions of “jobs”.  And, according to the Obama Administration’s latest incarnation of this age old canard, it can be done in a fiscally responsible manner through the issuance of “green ink” bonds by a national infrastructure bank, not “red ink” bonds by the US Treasury. The implication, of course, is that borrowings incurred to repair the nation’s allegedly “collapsing” infrastructure would be a form of “self-liquidating” debt. That is, these “infrastructure” projects would eventually pay for themselves in the form of enhanced national economic growth and efficiency.

Except that the evidence for dilapidated infrastructure is just bogus beltway propaganda cynically peddled by the construction and builder lobbies. Moreover, the infrastructure that actually does qualify for self-liquidating investment is overwhelmingly local in nature—-urban highways, metropolitan water and sewer systems, airports. These should be funded by users fees and levies on local taxpayers—not financed with Washington issued bonds and pork-barreled through its wasteful labyrinth of earmarks and plunder.

Nowhere is the stark distinction between the crumbling infrastructure myth and the factual reality more evident than in the case of the so-called deficient and obsolete bridges. To hear the K-Street lobbies tell it—-motorist all across American are at risk for plunging into the drink at any time owing to defective bridges.

Even Ronald Reagan fell for that one. During the long trauma of the 1981-1982 recession the Reagan Administration had stoutly resisted the temptation to implement a Keynesian style fiscal stimulus and jobs program–notwithstanding an unemployment rate that peaked in double digits. But within just a few months of the bottom, along came a Republican Secretary of Transportation, Drew Lewis, with a Presidential briefing on the alleged disrepair of the nation’s highways and bridges. The briefing was accompanied by a Cabinet Room full of easels bearing pictures of dilapidated bridges and roads and a plan to dramatically increase highway spending and the gas tax.

Not surprisingly, DOT Secretary Drew Lewis was a former governor and the top GOP fundraiser of the era. So the Cabinet Room was soon figuratively surrounded by a muscular coalition of road builders, construction machinery suppliers, asphalt and concrete vendors, governors, mayors and legislators and the AFL-CIO building trades department. And if that wasn’t enough, Lewis had also made deals to line up the highway safety and beautification lobby, bicycle enthusiasts and all the motley array of mass transit interest groups.

They were all singing from the same crumbling infrastructure playbook. As Lewis summarized, “We have highways and bridges that are falling down around our ears—that’s really the thrust of the program.”

The Gipper soon joined the crowd. “No, we are opposed to wasteful borrow and spend”, he recalled,”that’s how we got into this mess. But these projects are different. Roads and bridges are a proper responsibility of government, and they have already been paid for by the gas tax”.

By the time a pork-laden highway bill was rammed through a lame duck session of Congress in December 1982, Reagan too had bought on to the crumbling infrastructure gambit. Explaining why he signed the bill, the scourge of Big Government noted, “We have 23,000 bridges in need of replacement or rehabilitation; 40 percent of our bridges are over 40 years old.”

Still, this massive infrastructure spending bill that busted a budget already bleeding $200 billion of red ink was not to be confused with a capitulation to Keynesian fiscal stimulus. Instead, as President Reagan explained to the press when asked whether it was a tax bill, jobs bill or anti-recession stimulus, it was just an exercise in prudent governance: “There will be some employment with it, but its not a jobs bill as such. It is a necessity…..(based) on the user fee principle–those who benefit from a use should share its cost”.

Needless to say, none of that was remotely true. Twenty percent of the nickel/gallon gas tax increase went to mass transit, thereby breeching the “user fee” principle at the get-go, and paving the way for endless diversion of gas taxes to non-highway uses. Indeed, today an estimated 40% of highway trust fund revenues go to mass transit, bicycle paths and sundry other earmarks and diversions.

More importantly, less than one-third of the $30 billion authorized by the 1982 bill went to the Interstate Highway System—the ostensible user fee based national infrastructure investment. All the rest went to what are inherently local/regional projects—-state highways, primary and secondary roads, buses, and mass transit facilities.

And this is where the tale of Madison County bridges to nowhere comes in; and also where the principle that local users and taxpayers should fund local infrastructure could not be more strikingly illustrated.

It seems that after 32 years and tens of billions of Federal funding that the nations bridges are still crumbling and in grave disrepair. In fact, according to DOT and the industry lobbies there are 63,000 bridges across the nation that are “structurally deficient”, suggesting that millions of motorists are at risk for a perilous dive into the drink.

But here’s the thing. Roughly one-third or 20,000 of these purportedly hazardous bridges are located in six rural states in America’s mid-section: Iowa, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The fact that these states account for only 5.9% of the nation’s population seems more than a little incongruous but that isn’t even half the puzzle. It seems that these thinly populated country provinces have a grand total of 118,000 bridges. That is, one bridge for every 160 citizens—men, women and children included.

And the biggest bridge state among them is, well, yes, Iowa. The state has 3 million souls and nearly 25,000 bridges–one for every 125 people. So suddenly the picture is crystal clear. These are not the kind of bridges that thousands of cars and heavy duty trucks pass over each day. No, they are mainly the kind Clint Eastwood needed a local farm-wife to locate—so he could take pictures for a National Geographic spread on covered bridges.

Stated differently, the overwhelming bulk of the 600,000 so-called “bridges” in America are so little used that the are more often crossed by dogs, cows, cats and tractors than they are by passenger motorists.  They are essentially no different than local playgrounds and municipal parks. They have nothing to do with interstate commerce, GDP growth or national public infrastructure.

If they are structurally “deficient” as measured by engineering standards that is not exactly a mystery to the host village, township and county governments which choose not to upgrade them. So if Iowa is content to live with 5,000 bridges—one in five of its 25,000 bridges— that are deemed structurally deficient by DOT, why is this a national crisis? Self-evidently, the electorate and officialdom of Iowa do not consider these bridges to be a public safety hazard or something would have been done long ago.

The evidence for that is in another startling “fun fact” about the nation’s bridges.  Compared to the 19,000 so-called “structurally deficient” bridges in the six rural states reviewed here, there are also 19,000 such deficient bridges in another group of 35 states–including Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts,  Virginia, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and Wisconsin, among others. But these states have a combined population of 175 million not 19 million as in the six rural states; and more than 600 citizens per bridge, not 125 as in Iowa.

Moreover, only 7% of the bridges in these 35 states are considered to be structurally deficient rather than 21% as in Iowa. So the long and short of it is self-evident: Iowa still has a lot of one-horse bridges and Massachusetts— with 1,300 citizens per “bridge”— does not. None of this is remotely relevant to a national infrastructure crisis today—any more than it was in 1982 when even Ronald Reagan fell for “23,000 bridges in need of replacement or rehabilitation”.

Yes, the few thousands of bridges actually used heavily in commerce and passenger transportation in American do fall into disrepair and need  periodic reinvestment. But the proof that even this is an overwhelmingly state and local problem is evident in another list maintained by the DOT.

That list would be a rank ordering called “The Most Travelled Structurally Deficient Bridges, 2013″. These are the opposite of the covered bridges of Madison County, but even here there is a  cautionary tale. It seems that of the 100 most heavily traveled bridges in the US by rank order, and which are in need of serious repair, 80% of them are in California!

Moreover, they are overwhelmingly state highway and municipal road and street bridges located in Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Stated differently, Governor Moonbeam has not miraculously solved California endemic fiscal crisis; he’s just neglected the local infrastructure. There is no obvious reasons why taxpayers in Indiana or North Carolina needed to be fixing California’s bridges— so that it can continue to finance its outrageously costly public employee pension system.

And so it goes with the rest of the so-called infrastructure slate. There is almost nothing there that is truly national in scope and little that is in a state of crumbling and crisis.

Indeed, the one national asset—the Interstate Highway System—is generally in such good shape that most of the “shovel ready” projects on it during the Obama stimulus turned out to be resurfacing projects that were not yet needed and would have been done in the ordinary course anyway, and the construction of new over-passes for lightly traveled country roads that have happily been dead-ends for decades.

One thing is clear. The is no case for adding to our staggering $17 trillion national debt in order to replace the bridges of Madison county; or to fix state and local highways or build white elephant high speed rail systems; or to relieve air travelers of paying user fees to upgrade local airports or local taxpayers of their obligation to pay fees and taxes to maintain their water and sewer systems.

At the end of the day, the ballyhooed national infrastructure crisis is a beltway racket of the first order. It has been for decades.

Here is the bridge data in all its splendid detail!


The following table shows the ranking of states according to number of deficient bridges (left hand side) and percentage of bridges defective (right hand side):

Click to enlarge

State Bridge Rankings from artba

The nation’s 250 most heavily traveled bridges in need of repair are ranked in the following table:

Click to enlarge

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NOTaREALmerican's picture

Big-Road,  not quite the scam Big-MIC is, but the males of both Teams loving playing with the Big-Road toys.   

lordylord's picture

NJ taxes are sky high and after this winter, the roads are HORRIBLE.  Never in my life have I seen roads this bad.  There are LITERALLY holes big enough to lose your car in.  Still, liberals cry, "Who will build the roads?"  More like, "Who will neglect the roads?"

chumbawamba's picture

Yeah, I call bullshit.  The problem is the federal government sucking local money out of the cities with the crumbling infrastructure through taxation, which usurps the power of local planning (can't do shit without the funding) and makes in centrally controlled through congressional funding (earmarks).  The perfect communist state.

I am Chumbawamba.

Say What Again's picture

I don't know what this guys sees, but the roads are falling apart in my part of the country.

If the United States would stop spending money on going to war in Ukraine, and bailing out the bullshit satellite states, we would have plenty of money to rebuild the infrastructure.  And yes, that might create some jobs along the way, which would be OK with me, because at least I get something from the spending -- better roads, etc. 

max2205's picture

If I hear it's for the children. ....I will scream

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Just because you send money to these locations, does not necessarily mean it gets spent in an efficient manner on roads or roads at all. If we were spending money and actually getting cost effective roads, good. I have a feeling most of the money is not being used for actual roads. It is being wasted on cronies lining their pockets.

Fortunate Fool's picture

To see how bad infrastructures are in the US, one only has to travel in Europe, or China, or even part of the middle east and southeast asia to realize how far behind the US has fallen...


It's interesting to see that to illustrate his argument, the author of this article is taking one of the asset classes (Bridges) that is actually performing better. To see the details about how infrastructure are doing, just following the link below and see for yourself the disaster.



The thing about state of infrastructure reports like this one is that, it can be easily auditable, so I guess it's harder to BS it as much as you would do with a balance sheet...

sodbuster's picture

I live in Iowa. Bridges are expensive to build and maintain. Our county is pulling them out and replacing them with huge culverts. An old RR tanker car with the ends cut off does a pretty good job. Weld 2 together for length- way too cheap and simple for the feds.

Big Corked Boots's picture

Excellent. Another solution is to get old flatbed RR cars and use them as bridges - farms and ranches are popular reuses. There used to be thousands of these cars around when piggyback trailers went from 40' to 48' and now 53' long.

Luapnor's picture

You clearly havent been to China...

Fortunate Fool's picture

Unlike you, I guess, I have, which is why I made that comment... But you know, you can still continue to think that the US have the bestest infrastructure on earth. Those who travel know otherwise.

sleigher's picture

If they built the roads properly in the first place we wouldn't have as many issues.  Saw an article once where they compared Autobahn construction to US interstate construction.  The Autobahn had like 12 (I think) inches of concrete as the foundation of the roadway.  In the US it is 4 (6?) inches I think.  I wish I could find that site again.  The excuse being it is cheaper in the US to build that way.  Obviously long term it is far more expensive.  Not only in road repair but also in vehicle wear and tear.  I don't remember the exact figures but the roads over there were built much stronger and they had only a fraction of the repairs that we have here.  Whatever, this is pointless.  We all know the Germans are perfect in every way.

GooseShtepping Moron's picture

Some sections of the Autobahn actually have a full 24" concrete base. The Autobahn was engineered to a much higher standard than American roadways in order to support the high speeds and and high performance vehicles. It's a whole different ballgame at 150 mph. The road can have absolutely no cracks or bumps, for if you hit a crack at that speed even a well built car can shake itself to pieces. If I recall correctly, grades are limited to 0.5 degrees, for anything steeper than that would act like a ramp. Turning radii, too, must be extremely gentle.

Obviously not every location is even suitable for an Autobahn-type road, and the very concept of one presumes a competent driving public and a ready supply of engineering talent and public funds. The Autobahn is constantly being repaired. Constantly. That is the only way to maintain the engineering standards it requires, which kind of belies David Stockman's point.

I like most of Stockman's recent offerings, but I'm not exactly on board with him on this one.

cynicalskeptic's picture

o ntractors elsewhere are responsible for a road for the FULL LIFE of it - there's no incentive to cheart on construction since they have to come back and make good any failures before the end of its contracted life.  Here in the US a road repaving gets signed off on and paid in full with the responsibility of the contractor ended and over no matter how bad a job they did.  I recall one of the mobbed up major local contractors bragging about how he made a fortune only putting down half the specified thoickness of asphalt on a lopcal highway repaving.  The inspectors were likely bribed to approve at a nominal cost and the contractor made millions while the road fell apart after a couple years.

How hard would it be to actually hold contractors responsible for the QUALITY OF THEIR WORK?  Specify an expected life for initial construction or repaving and make the contractor responsible fo rmaintaining or repairing any shortfalls.  Cheaper to do a good job than come back - and have them post a bond to cover potential costs in case they go bankrupt.   Was always astounded at how much even minor work - like an interchange redo - cost.  MILLIONS and MILLIONS - with only a handful of companies bidding.  If that's the case they can afford to do it right and make it last.

CunnyFunt's picture

Ffs, just a single sign structure costs millions and millions.

cynicalskeptic's picture

I'm seeing GREAT roads and lots of new construction way out in the boonies - pork run rampant in rural areas.  We see it regularly when traveling.  On college visits we saw lots of new construction - big multi lanne roads in places where cows outnumber people.  Was camping this weekend and saw plenty of work way up in the Catskills (on the way to the Raceway and casino) and one of the two lane oroads we used  has been completely redone - new surface and widened shoulders.

BUT here in the NYC burbs where roads are heavily uses things ARE falling apart.  The Palisades Parkway was so bad this winter that it was literally destroying cars - more than a few major accidents with totaled cars because of HUGE potholes.  The same is true all over the regiopn with soem bridges in horrid shape.  The Tappan Zee replacement is finally under construction DECADES after the original 'expired' - was stuck on the bridge in traffic the other day and it was NOT a reassuring experience.  I suppose I should be happy that they fixed the holes THROUGH the road bed where you could see the river.  Local streets in affluent parts of Westchester are also falling apart with reduced state aid and property tax caps.  I got fed up and actually filled a bunch of potholes outside my driveway - was tired of the wear and tear on my car's suspension.   Most communities are years behind on a road replacement cycle.

But then as long as the wealthy can take their helicopters into Manhattan from Greenwich and South Salem, why should they care about roads?

Spending on infrastructure has little to do with actual NEED and everything to do with politics.   Saw a brochure for 'Steamtown' in Scranton (a porkfest if there ever was one) among the others when stopped to get gas proving my point.

IndyPat's picture

Might I suggest that you import and elect Mitch McConnell?
It think KY is done with his ass, all pork aside.

Vashta Nerada's picture

I am convinced that politicians push infrastructure not for 'bringing home the bacon', but for personal gain.  They are literally taking kickbacks from the developers in return for the projects.  Ever wonder how so many people became wealthy AFTER going to congress?

SamAdams's picture

and using tax dollars to buy military assets which are then destroyed in a foreign country...  Poor return on tax dollar investment.

chumbawamba's picture

Yeah, they don't use tax dollars for that.  That's a myth.  Did you notice when they needed $18 trillion for the banksters they somehow "found" it (i.e. conjured it up from nothing) at a moment's notice?

There is no shortage of money, just intelligence amongst the American people.  Taxes are simply a way to manage the purchasing power of the plebes, that's all.  The PTB use taxation to manage the workforce and create a proper balance conducive to the profitability of the corporations that sponsor the politicians.

There is nothing new under the Sun.

I am Chumbawamba.

Ying-Yang's picture

So correct Chumba...

Taxes are control. Don't pay go to jail, if you're a plebe

SamAdams's picture

Education or action, you draw the line where?  I'm on the right side.,.

Anusocracy's picture

I agree with you, but here in Michigan the state government has been diverting gas tax revenues to the General Fund.

Now they (Repubs) are calling for increases for road repairs.

Aside: wasn't America founded with the concept of private roads?

chumbawamba's picture

That and the common ways belong to the people.

I am Chumbawamba.

McMolotov's picture

Last night on the news, they said we need to spend $75 billion over the next 15 years to repair roads and bridges. It's a lot of money, but the Fed craps out that much every month. How much do we send overseas to other nations?

The government's list of priorities is about 50 different kinds of fucked up.

duo's picture

It's interesting how many of those bridges are in CA and IL.  You'd think that the LA climate would be easy on steel and concrete, or was it the earthquakes?

Pre-stressed concrete doesn't like earthquakes.

chumbawamba's picture

It's a matter of cutting corners and shitty engineering.  The bridge that the Chinese are building to replace the eastern span of the Oakland-Bay Bridge has been delayed because they used some shitty bolts in one part that were sheering off.  I give that bridge five years before it falls into the fucking bay.

I am Chumbawamba.

IndyPat's picture

Sorta like this?


The upside is that maybe Oakland will get a pre collapse visit from the Mothman, which is kinda fun, right?

Confused's picture

Wait.....wait.......the Chinese are now building bridges in the US? What the fuck? The US is truly fucked. What won't be outsourced?

CunnyFunt's picture

U.S. bridge fab has been sent overseas for a while now. Not only China, but Spain, Korea, Brazil and Canada get in on the act as well. Some municipalities and authorities require domestic steel and fabrication, but most don't.

PacOps's picture

The bridge was completed on Sept. 2, 2013 after the delays.

I share your concerns.




IndyPat's picture

Check this out.
Went to visit my parents in Louisville, KY yesterday. They have been trying to get the bridge situation between KY and So. Indiana worked out for years. They finally "settled" on two fucking bridges!
It gets better.
One bridge is downtown, and makes sense. The second is in the northern old money burb of Propect, KY. It basically connects nowhere to nowhere, which is par. Well, the wealthy Prospect folks didn't want the bridge or the So. Indiana Hoosier riffraff that will cross it, so they designated the land where the bridge would start as "Historic". So, what's the solution? Blasting two fucking tunnels under the "Historic" land. I shit thee not. Major cost...and the fucking thing will probably leak like a screen door.
Amazing stuff.

Edit: thank Mitch for this hillbilly version of the Boston Dig....

Ray Donovan's picture

I live in Louisville and both those bridges are WAY overdue.  The east end bridge will cut down on I71 traffic into downtown considerablely.  Now I totally agree on the tunnell thing, absolutely ridiculous.  All the old money fought and fought the bridges for years.

I was up in Chicago about a month ago and whoah, it was like a third world country up there.  Worst roads I've seen in my life. 

InflammatoryResponse's picture

Amen fellow Louisvillian.  that tunnel thing is totally absurd.


the east end bridge is going to help a lot.  shoulda only built that one to be sure



NoDebt's picture

You're a buncha pikers, all of you.

In PA, near Philly there is an interstate highway spur/connector referred to as the "Blue Route" becuase it's path ran through a lot of old "blue blood" neighborhoods.  

It was finished about 15 years ago at this point.  The legal battle over putting that road in started shortly after WWII (yes, in the 1940s).  The person who original proposed putting a road along this route was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

I shit you not.

The day after it opened, it had it's first traffic jam.  And it hasn't gotten any better since then.

schooltruth's picture

I'll second NJ roads as being horrible this year.  However, 51st in NY may be the worst road in a major city in the Northeast.  I felt like I was offroading in Moab, UT.

kito's picture

@lordy--agreed, as are the roads in neighboring nyc (sans the touristy parts of manhattan). stockman misses the point here. roads and bridges are falling apart. and it isnt the responsibility of the federal government. but the states and municipalities are BROKE. they dont have the funds to fix it because they are too busy pouring money into public union obligations. new jersey is a perfect example. ranked dead last in fiscal health in the u.s.  the roads and bridges should be getting repaired, but arent because the state is up to its ears in pension obligations. its a sign of the times. more and more money going to prop up the people as opposed to the underlying infrastructure that helps improve commerce. 

fonzannoon's picture

"LePatner, who is the author of a book called Too Big to Fall and who routinely offers dire warnings about the condition of America’s vital infrastructure, considers the Tappan Zee his “scary of scaries.” Yet even he was taken aback when, after the speech, a state official sidled up and implied that things were worse, even, than LePatner imagined. The man asked LePatner how often he crosses the bridge. Maybe twice a year, LePatner told him, to go antiquing in Nyack. “That’s enough,” the official replied."

"For the record, the New York State Thruway Authority, which controls the Tappan Zee, insists the bridge is in no immediate danger of falling down. But the 140,000 or so people who travel daily across the seven-lane span, which was built to handle a fraction of that traffic load, can be forgiven for having their doubts. The Tappan Zee routinely sheds chunks of concrete, like so much dandruff, into the river below. Engineering assessments have found that everything from steel corrosion to earthquakes to maritime accidents could cause major, perhaps catastrophic, damage to the span. Last July, one of Governor Cuomo’s top aides referred to the Tappan Zee as the “hold-your-breath bridge.”


kito's picture

"The last hurdle to clear is financing. Last year, an analysis by a group co-chaired by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker questioned whether the Thruway Authority was creditworthy enough to fund the project, budgeted at the time to cost $5 billion. But then the winning $3.1 billion bid came in. State officials say they are confident they can cover that amount by securing a federal highway loan from the Obama administration and raising enough state funds, presumably from bonds backed by increased tolls (last week, they approved an initial $500 million issue).


too funny fonz. their solution of course is to borrow from the fed and then increase tolls, which of course will just go to right into the coffers of the toll attendants union.  i guess debt doesnt matter......




DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Clap, clap, clap and a big roar of approval for David Stockman and the Tylers for this one!  Bravo!

Latitude25's picture

Were the interstate highway system and massive hydroelectric projects of past decades unnecessary?

lordylord's picture

Nobody is saying that.  I can guarantee you that the private sector could do the same job faster and more efficiently.  Government only knows how to waste.

NOTaREALmerican's picture

Re:  Government only knows how to waste

Well,  not exactly "waste" if you happen to benefit...     Most people I know (some are even Libertarians, Conservatives, and "Conservatives") love Federal Big-Toy projects.    We'd all be stuck on trains if the "private sector" had to pay for all this cool infrastructure.   I can't imagine United Airlines floating airport mortgage bonds.    That's what politicians exist for:  to bring the smart-n-savvy people together to collectively screw the tax-payers (for the children, tho, of course).

MeBizarro's picture

BS.   There hasn't been a single large infrastructure project in the US that hasn't had either had a large direct portion of gov't-funding or indirect funding (eg bond guarantees) starting with the Erie Canal in the early 19th century. 

NOTaREALmerican's picture

The idealist dumbass libertarian that inhabits my brain says:  The states could have built all it if they had wanted too.

But,  in reality,  nobody does big manly toy projects like the Feds:  Big-MIC, Big-Road, Big-Water, Big-Airport... 

It's too bad the manly men who run the Red Team don't like Big-Train as much as Big-Airport and Big-Road.   I guess only girly-men like trains.

RealitySpike's picture

Amazing how the 2 poster children for successful (true) infrastructure investment are used to justify spending on infrastucture maintenance that should have been done anyways. As Stockman points out repaving/repairing neglected highways/bridges is just an excuse for politicians to get more tax money to waste. The irony is these 2 projects have little in common with what is being promoted as infrastructure now.

The interstates were designed by the feds in the 30's primarily in response to the carnage on the US highway system. (If you want a sense of what is was like, drive US-1 between Miami and Key West -- the most dangerous road in America -- and imagine this on a national scale.) The system was funded by a levy on gasoline, tires, and oil products. The feds (thanks to DDE's efforts) just guaranteed the bond. The unintended payoff of the system is that it created suburban America and spawned icons like McDonalds and Taco Bell. 

The private sector would have funded Hoover and others but the governments wanted to control the water and power. The dams were built by low bidder consortia who violated every pro-union,  EPA, OSHA, affirmative action, etc. guideline that would be applied today. The biggest challenge in getting these started was the inter-state fighting over water rights.

Today's equivalents (pipelines, ports expansion, water storage, etc.) don't need public funding they are simply blocked by the idealogues in government.

Seasmoke's picture

We need a speed rail from Vegas to Atlantic City. 

remain calm's picture

We need a speed rail from the White House to Hell