Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Old Water Main Broke on Sunset Boulevard: A WPA could have prevented that!

(WPA workers on a water & sewer project in Prince George's County, Maryland, 1939. Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.)

This past Friday, September 26, 2014, a 100-year-old water main broke and flooded Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California, causing many disruptions. The break was just one of hundreds of water line breaks that occur every single day across the nation. One would think that such infrastructure problems would be a matter of urgent attention for our Congress--but they're not. For example, Republicans have made a habit of blocking legislation designed to improve America's crumbling infrastructure (see, e.g., here) and Democrats provided little or no support when one of the their colleagues introduced legislation to create a new WPA.

During the 1930s and 40s, New Deal policymakers offered job opportunities to the unemployed, in programs like the CCC and WPA. One of the main goals of the WPA was to repair and modernize America's water line and sewage infrastructure. For example, WPA laborers installed over 16,000 miles of new water lines. 

Isn't it a shame that we don't have a WPA today?

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