Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Broken highways, broken dreams

I couldn't tell you the plot of Walker Percy's Love in the Ruins, it's been so long. But the one image I remember from this dystopic, slightly hallucinatory novel, published in 1971 and set in the near future, is that of an interstate highway with grass growing up in it. Could never happen, in my innocence I must have thought, and that must be why I remember it so vividly.

Alas, it could happen.

Congested highways, overflowing sewers and corroding bridges are constant reminders of the looming crisis that jeopardizes our nation's prosperity and our quality of life.

That's the cheerful beginning of the 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. Hopes for improvement in water and wastewater treatment are going down the drain. Transit generally has gone from bad to worse.

But all the rusting bridges and seeping sewers in the world fail to strike me as quite as sad as this once-upon-a-time.

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