America's Improving Infrastructure

A blog about business and economics.
April 9 2013 9:32 AM

U.S. Infrastructure Is Actually Getting Better

71500323
A sign indicating the highest speed limit in the country on Interstate 10 outside of the West Texas town of El Paso

Photo by Rick Scibelli/Getty Images

Evan Soltas at Bloomberg View tries to debunk the notion that America isn't spending enough on its basic infrastructure. The argument is a bit unconvincing and amounts to showing that U.S. infrastructure spending is about average—"U.S. public investment has tracked the OECD average since at least 1970." It strikes me as extremely plausible that the average OECD country underspends on public investment.

But where he is persuasive is that contrary to the impression you often get from the media, the trend in infrastructure quality is in the right direction. The share of vehicle-miles traveled on "good" or better highways has risen, the share of "poor" roads has fallen, the share of "deficient" bridges has fallen, the share of "congested" interstates has fallen. As a lifelong resident of the Northeast Corridor I don't like to play the east coast elite card, but having just returned from Texas I do wonder if there isn't something of an NYC/D.C. bubble playing a role here. In recentish trips to Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee the basic quality of the sunbelt roadways has struck me as markedly higher than what you see in the Northeast Corridor. We're coping here in the northeast with an incredible level of population density and a lot of thorny legacy issues that plausibly leave us lagging behind the national average and give media and political figures an excessively pessimistic sense of the overall national situation.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Federal Law Enforcement Has Declared War on Encryption

Justice and the FBI really do not like Apple’s and Google’s new privacy measures.

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?