Cranes working on the renovation of the Broadway City Pier building in Fells Point

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is a follow-up to the May 16, 2015 post entitled “Infrastructure”.

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition and discussed the state of U.S. infrastructure.  Please do listen to the interview as Secretary LaHood describes the interaction between the recent harsh winter, the gasoline tax (which is primarily used to fund infrastructure projects), and the dilapidated condition of many roads, bridges, and railways in the United States.

I distinctly remember years ago standing on a bridge to photograph a sunrise (there was a walkway that was sectioned off from the main road).  While getting ready to press the shutter, a logging truck passed by and the vibration of the bridge made it impossible to for the creation of a sharp image at that particular moment (and for a brief time thereafter until the bridge settled down).  That brought to mind the number of the trucks (and cars and buses) that have crossed that bridge during its years of existence-the amount of stress and fatigue produced by the traffic, along with the weather exposure, must have been enormous.  Structural engineers take such things into account during the design process; however, the changing climate and demographics often mean that longer-term weather exposure and current travel patterns may be quite different from originally considered.  All physical objects degrade over time when exposed to such conditions and Secretary LaHood states his concerns quite clearly.

My daily commute is about 100 miles and currently I drive through several major roadway repair projects-while it is annoying to be slowed/stopped in traffic at the end of a work day, that is preferable to having the bridge fall from underneath the car.

Cranes working on the renovation of the Broadway City Pier building in Fells Point

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As an aside, the photographs in this post are not from any of the aforementioned infrastructure projects-it is the  former Broadway City Pier building in Fells Point, which is being converted into a hotel. The building was vacant for years and had fallen into disrepair after having served as the Homicide Division’s headquarters for the television show Homicide.  Fans of that show should recognize it.

Take care.

“Big Weather”

May 17, 2015

BW photograph of an incoming storm in the mountains

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The United States’ 2015 tornado season is upon us as evidenced by the storms that hammered Texas and Arkansas last week-we have also already had the first Tropical Storm of 2015, Ana, make landfall.  Yesterday (May 16, 2015) was another day of tornado activity in the mid-west of the U.S.  On a related note, the 2015 hurricane season for the United States begins June 1 and runs through November 30, 2015.  In other parts of the world, hurricanes are referred to as “typhoons” and yesterday Typhoon Dolphin raked Guam.

The photograph above would not even really qualify as “small weather” because as dramatic as it might look, very, very few droplets of rain actually fell.  The conditions certainly looked as if it were going to be much more and then the clouds dissipated.

By way of reference, the term “big weather” comes from a book of the same name:  Big Weather: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America, which I read a few years ago and recommend.  The author, Mark Svenvold, provides a history of storm chasing and how The Weather Channel came to be such a fixture of American culture.

Take care.

 

 

Infrastructure

May 16, 2015

BW photograph of an idle train

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The recent Amtrak train derailment outside of Philadelphia that resulted in the loss of 8 lives and 200+ injured has brought the status of critical infrastructure in the United States into question, as discussed here and here.  The northeast corridor is the busiest in the U.S. as it services 5 of the top 26 most populous cities in the country: Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.  (That lists the cities geographically from north to south.  By population the list would be:  New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Baltimore.)

BW photograph of an idle train's truck springs

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

More will be revealed about the causes of the accident as evidence continues to be sought and evaluated and the private/public debate will play out in terms of responsibility and funding.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Nepal continues to be rattled by the extraordinary earthquakes that continue through the region.  Kunda Dixon was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday and reported here that “Six hundred thousand homes were destroyed…” The death toll now exceeds 8,000.  Nepal, a country of approximately 30 million people, has nowhere near the resources of the U.S. and therefore faces a long struggle for a return to normalcy.

Infrastructure and the allocation of resources play a part in both stories.  The United States, as the prototypical most-developed country, has a great deal more of both when compared to Nepal, an example of a least-developed country.  One of the issues for the United States is the manner in which resources are allocated and the railway system has long been an area for which there has been much debate.  It may well be that the infrastructure did indeed not play a role in the most recent accident.

The same cannot be said for Nepal.  The majority of the housing simply could not withstand the violence of the continuing earthquakes.  Now, as the monsoon season is set to begin, housing, food, water and the other most basic of resources will be increasingly needed. As before, please research and consider donating in order to provide assistance.

Condolences to all who are struggling to deal with all of these circumstances.

Take care.