City infrastructure threatened by changing climate

Global Business

City infrastructure threatened by changing climate

Many cities across the globe have drawn up plans to respond to the threat of climate change. But a recent U.S. study claims when it comes to roads and other infrastructure, some engineers are using old data when selecting building materials which could prove costly.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

According to a recent study by a scientific journal, climate change has already brought higher temperatures across the U.S. Midwest.

The study claims the average air temperature in the region has risen by 4.5 degrees since 1980.

Coupled with unusual heavy rain, all of it puts pressure on the area’s infrastructure.

Don Fullerton of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign said. “The rapid changes in temperature or more extreme changes in temperature during the course of the year puts stress on the joints so to speak. On the bridges, the tunnels or roads. The bridges could get cracks and become dangerous. So it is just going to be more expensive for state and local as well as federal governments to repair all these roads and bridges.”

A separate study by Arizona State University says there are engineers across the U.S. using out of date temperature data and climate models when selecting building materials. It means roads, bridges and other infrastructure are more likely to fail, and more quickly.

The reports have not gone unnoticed by Chris Schmidt at the Illinois Department of Transportation. “The way that Illinois infrastructure is right now, it is extremely aging. We made a decision several years ago that we were going to look at all of our assets holistically and come up with a solution as far as ranking and determining where we can spend the most money, be the most cost effective by investing in areas that are not only most critical but then also most vulnerable and susceptible to these more extreme weather events.”

The cost could be significant. The study suggests as much as 35 billion dollars will be required for extra or earlier than expected repairs for roads being built using the current data model.

Although climate change is expected to have a significant impact across the American mid-west, some experts say coastal areas will be even harder hit. And they also warn that few U.S. states are doing enough to prepare their infrastructure.

“Even without the severe weather, the infrastructure wasn’t up to it,” said Eve Pytel, a director at the Delta Institute. “Now with severe weather, it is further compromised. So there is now more impact from it. Climate change is something that we need to be reacting to now but also plan to act in the future. Really trying to solve the problem for the long term instead of these endless parades of band aids.”