Sunday, August 26, 2007

Infrastructure Collapse

When your infrastructure was built fifty years ago, and was expected to only last half that time, well this is what happens when you waste a decade fighting the deficit chimera of the nineties.
Tunnel ceiling cracks close Montreal streets

–A large section of downtown Montreal will remain closed for the weekend after two cracks were found in a tunnel that makes up part of the underground city.

Montreal police widened a safety perimeter last night to include a number of blocks in the city's downtown core after officials felt there was a real risk of a road collapse following the discovery of cracks in an underground tunnel.

Fire chief Serge Tremblay told reporters last night that a second fissure was also found, but experts haven't been able to conclude what caused the cracks or how long they had been there.

Bridge to Laval latest to undergo repairs

Since the collapse last year of the Laval overpass, Quebec's Transport Department has been conducting more thorough inspections of the province's infrastructure.

Last week, responding to fears a 69-year-old north-end Montreal overpass could collapse because its concrete has "weakened," the city barred all trucks from the heavily-used structure and announced plans to demolish and rebuild it next year.

This is the empirical result of the neo-conservative political agenda of reducing taxes and regulations,failing to fund infrastructure and public services, and promoting privatization.

Bridges in Canada have reached 49 per cent of their useful life, according to a 2006 Statistics Canada study, and experts warn our country's roads, wastewater plants and other infrastructure isn't in any better shape.

A Statistics Canada study examining the age of infrastructure in Canada cited wastewater treatment facilities as the oldest, with 63 per cent of their useful life behind them in 2003. Roads and highways had reached 59 per cent of their useful life, and sewer systems 52 per cent.

Of course it is not only occurring in Canada, but also in the U.S. which originated the daft ideology of the neo-cons.

Emergency personnel look over a truck that lies in a hole in the street after a steam explosion in midtown Manhattan, New York, Wednesday, July 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Cataclysmic infrastructure collapse: Who pays?
A recent Minneapolis bridge collapse and New York steam pipe explosion, both of which collectively caused the deaths of at least six people and more than US$250 million in damages, has brought infrastructure liability to the fore, according to a report by KPMG.

At issue is whether insurers are on the hook for the cataclysmic failure of a decaying urban infrastructure.

KPMG Insurance Insider quotes Claire Wilkinson, the vice president for global issues at the Insurance Information Institute, on the issue of where liability falls in the event of a massive infrastructure failure.

She notes that, in the United States, federal and local authorities that administer bridges and road can claim "sovereign immunity" to avoid liability. But she adds the common-law defense may no longer apply if the infrastructure was under repair, opening the public entities and contractors to charges of negligence..
"A contractor employed by the state could cause damage where the state would be held liable," KPMG quotes Wilkinson as saying.

And even if a contractor has liability coverage, Wilkinson adds, in a world of multi-million construction projects, the limits would likely be quickly eclipsed. KPMG notes that in the event a state contractor exceeded liability limits, the pubic entity might be held responsible for project liability associated with the costs of reconstruction, casualty, property business interruption and/or workers compensation claims.
And so the result is the idea that P3's will solve the under investing done by Governments at all levels for the past two decades. Except the so called 'private' partner, ain't. It's your and my pension funds. In other words you and I pay twice, as taxpayers then as Pension Fund participants.

The bridge collapse in Minneapolis is giving rise to other concerns. Hundreds of billions is needed to rebuild the nation's infrastructure. It's not just roads and bridges. It's also generation and transmission.

Enter infrastructure investing: Public and private pension funds currently invest in varied assets that range from stocks to bonds to real estate. But some are now taking a look at vital infrastructure as a way to earn better-than-average returns as well as to guarantee the longevity of an area's economic growth. If such allocations could provide competitive returns, pension experts say that fiduciaries and trustees would not violate their obligation to act solely in the interest of plan participants.


Minister of P3

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Super P3

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