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    May 2, 2022

    Rust and America's Growing Infrastructure Problem

    All across our country, roads, bridges, train and high-speed rail tracks, ramps, tunnels, dams, water supplies, and energy grids are simply falling apart. In 2021, America earned a C- on The American Society of Civil Engineers' infrastructure report card. While that's not failing, that's not great for the structures that make our daily lives possible! Infrastructure is everything that our civilization needs to function, so it's certainly not something to take lightly.

    The report warned that 43% of U.S. roads and highways, as well as tens of thousands of bridges, were in "poor or mediocre" condition. Public transit systems earned a D-, with nearly one in five transit vehicles and 6% of tracks, tunnels, and other facilities in poor condition.

    Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden all spoke during their Presidencies about America's need to repair our infrastructure. In fact, America's desperate need to fix our crumbling infrastructure may be the one thing everyone agrees on! We encourage you to watch this YouTube video that illustrates much of what we'll talk about today and is where we found much of the statistical data we cite in this blog.

    Why is this happening? The short answer, in many cases, is age and rust. What can we do to fix it? The answer is a bit longer but just as straightforward. First, let's discuss exactly how we know our infrastructure is in such dire straits.

    America's Crumbling Infrastructure

    The problems are now affecting "everyday Americans" every day! Every two minutes, a water main breaks in the U.S. Across the country, this spills roughly six billion gallons of treated water every single day. That's not to say these broken pipes are the only issue. Many pipes are so degraded and contaminated that the water passing through them is toxic. It isn't only water; our power lines are failing as well, with power outages becoming more and more common.

    According to government statistics mentioned in the video, roughly 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. Needless to say, this is about more than simple aesthetics. A weak bridge that is rusting away is a death trap, and people are driving across them every day.

    Remember, roads, bridges, and other pieces of infrastructure are designed to have a useful lifespan. Nothing is made to last forever, not even the bridge you travel over to get to work each morning. Inevitably, all pieces and parts start to wear out. The bridges that are part of the nation's Interstate Highway System began construction during the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration more than 60 years ago! Anthony J. Lamanna, an engineering professor and construction expert at Arizona State University, explains, "... we're nearing the end of life for some of the bridges. In fact, we're beyond it in some cases."

    Crumbling Infrastructure

    Now, there's finally a plan in place to combat the issue: a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed in 2021. This will be the largest investment in decades and is clearly much needed. Of the $1.2 trillion, over $6 billion is earmarked for the power grid. The bill also provides $110 billion for roads and bridges. There's more for train tracks and other public transportation.

    Combat Rust Before it Destroys Your Structure

    Ronald Reagan said, "The bridges and highways we fail to repair will need to be rebuilt tomorrow." He's right! It's significantly easier and cheaper to repair a structure than to build it again once it crumbles beyond repair.

    Finally, investments are being made in the nation's bridges to make them more resilient. Many of the country's older bridges are susceptible to corrosion due to degradation and rust. The Federal Highway Administration tells us that on bridges, corrosion is most often caused when steel is exposed to atmospheric conditions, such as salt, moisture, and oxygen. To prevent corrosion on bridges, applying a protective coating to the steel is needed.

    If the bridge is not rehabilitated, corrosion will eventually compromise its structural integrity. One cannot simply take down a bridge to do so, though. A hot-dip galvanizing coating needs to be applied in a controlled setting, like a manufacturing plant. The only way to apply a protective coating to a bridge, tower, or any other structure already in the field is via a cold galvanizing compound. Cold galvanizing compounds can be applied like a paint, out of a can and on-site.

    How to Combat Rust

    We have years of experience providing a solution for these projects, like the steel railings of the Peace Bridge, which spans the Niagara River between Buffalo, NY, and Fort Erie, Ontario.

    ZRC Worldwide pioneers quality solutions that last. We developed the technology behind zinc-rich coating and its application as corrosion prevention solutions. As the original creators of cold galvanizing corrosion protection technology that results in superior zinc coatings, we've been the global industry leader for over 70 years. We encourage government contractors tasked with using the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to repair America's infrastructure to contact us and learn more about what our product can do to help you complete your job.

    ZRC® Cold Galvanizing Compound is the on-site solution you're looking for. Order now, and we'll ship within 24 hours!

    Galvanic Corrosion Protection