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America’s Backbone is Falling Apart, Literally

The infrastructure of the United States is the backbone of the nation. It facilitates the movement of goods, people, information, and energy from place to place. Without this movement, the US economy could not function, and people would be left with no safe means to transport themselves from one location to another.

All this may seem too obvious to point out. But I think it’s important to do so: we forget how pivotal infrastructure is. 

Despite its importance, the vast majority of infrastructure in the United States has been allowed to decay — reaching dangerous levels of disrepair.

American infrastructure is made up of many systems. These systems include a network of roads, railways, electrical grids… internet providers, highways, bridges, ports, airports and more. Many of these systems were built decades ago and weren’t meant to last forever.

Poor infrastructure investment has become an increasingly important foreign policy issue. We are falling behind other nations. McBride and others say that “US infrastructure is [...] dangerously overstretched and lagging behind that of its economic competitors, particularly China.”

If the US falls behind China in this economically crucial area, the present tension between the countries could worsen. China spends 9% of its GDP on infrastructure investment, while the US only spends 2%. Our federal budget must be reassessed. We need to close the spending disparity.

And it’s not just 'the economy’ or international relations that infrastructure decay threatens. It poses a significant threat to American lives.

Studies show that one-third of trac fatalities can be directly attributed to substandard road conditions, which is about 15,000 people every year over the last decade.

Unsafe roads and highways have negative effects on the supply chain of US goods, but even more horrific effects on real American lives. Aging infrastructure can result in fatal accidents. If the backbone of America isn't safe, then neither are its people.

Infrastructure is the glue that holds the United States together. It is important that policymakers address these issues quickly and efficiently in order to preserve the intact infrastructure the country has left.


McBride, James. Berman, Noah. Siripurapu, Anshu "The State of U.S. Infrastructure." Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Secrist, Ben. "America’s infrastructure: Challenges and opportunities." Scribd, Aug. 2013, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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