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99% Invisible: Public Works

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Infrastructure makes modern civilization possible. Roads, power grids, sewage systems and water networks all underpin society as we know it, forming the basis of our built environment … at least when they work.

As Henry Petroski documents in The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure, physical infrastructure in the United States is in an ongoing state of crisis. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently give American roads and bridges dismal letter grades of D and C+ respectively. Their report describes roughly sixty-five thousand bridges in the United States as being “structurally deficient.” [...]