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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  August 14, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT

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investigating the site of two massive explosions in the chinese city of tianjin where over 50 people were killed. they set up 17 testing stations to monitor air quality. the address, that's all the news on our website there. tomorrow. i'm ali velshi on target from philadelphia, from sea to shiny sea, america's infrastructure is falling apart - roads, bridges, railways and waterways are in need of repair or upgrade. why can't we fix it? we go to ground zero of the colorado goldmine. complz
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i'm here in philadelphia, pennsylvania, a region with one of the worst commutes in the community, according to a survey. drivers in the philadelphia region spend 48 hours more per year than the rest of the country, stuck on local highways travelling to and from work. the local road and train network is not keeping up with a growing population, and jobs moving out to the suburbs. one in four bridges is considered structurally deficient. pittsburgh repair solution was to build a net underneath it to catch the debris from falling from it. america's infrastructure problems are bigger than pennsylvania. roads, bridges, railways, ports, power grids collectively get nothing better than a deep plus grade on a report card put out
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by the american society of civil engineers. the group estimates the united states will need to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020 to pay for necessary repairs and upgrades nationwide. they may have doctor in this, not only are we not doing enough to modernize the infrastructure, we are barely maintaining what we have running now. once upon a time america's infrastructure was the envy of the world. now we are clearly falling behind the rest of the world. the u.s. ranked 12th globally for the state of infrastructure in 2014, down from sefferentds place in -- seventh place in 2003, according to the global competitiveness ranking, hong kong, singapore, united arab emirates taking the top three. the big problems dogging the infrastructure in the united states are legion. number one is financing, there's less federal money going around. there's too much debt strapping state and local governments.
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who will pay for this. throw in infrastructure that ages, and the problems are getting worse and worse over time. an issue is the scale of costs with big transportation and other infrastructure upgrades. by nature, almost all big builds come with cost overruns because planners overestimate the costs and the risks of technically complex construction projects. they take years to complete. more needs to be done to fix america's broken infrastructure. we asked five reporters to focus on one problem confronting the cities they work in. two of them, jacob ward and allen schauffler gracious enough to tape on the way to assignments, covering the mine spill near the colorado river. >> this is the water front in seattle, this is the double-decker highway quarrying cars north to south, south to north across the water front for half a century, other than i 5,
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it's the only other major north-south corridor in the city. they shouldn't be on the highway, it's dangerous, damaged in an earthquake 15 years ago and has been replaced. the via ducts will be torn down, a tunnel dug under the city of seattle to carry the traffic. it's dug by the largest tunnel machine, behind the right cover named bertha, it was stuck, going nowhere. and we are getting to the point where we can fix bertha, getting the repair parts under ground and tunnel northward. the project is about three years behind schedule. as for the budget. the entire project budgeted at 4 billion. the tunnelling - no one is saying how much over budget the budget might be in 2018. on the counter time line, no
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doubt the cost and who pays it is something we can figure out in the courts, and we can figure it out for a long time. a lot of work to be done here and under the city. >> let's talk about how complicated and important bridges are, especially in a si like san francisco, and the bay area. or any major american city depending on the big commercial bays and waterways for their economic existence, this is the most complicated bridge assembled on the west coast of the united states. over $6 billion and a decade in the making, it is a relatively unique structure, calling a self-anchored bridge, basically the big steel rods you see going up to the top of the tower, it wraps around, coming back around, one loom pulling back on itself, a self-anchored bridge.
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the fact that it is unique made it complicated to build. already the transit authority that oversees this is running into problems with the construction. the welds don't necessarily line up. some of the cabling and the rods turned out to corrode. all of that makes it complex. the stakes could not be higher. this is true in new york city and seattle. it has to function. this is how balances and fire trucks get to and from emergencies. when it comes to infrastructure, bridges xoo not be more complicated. the stakes could not be higher. >> researchers say we lose an estimated $2.1 trillion in drinking water each year. the cause of that loss, disintegrating pipes. most of the water infrastructure is a century old.
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some dating back to the late 1800s. it's projected 22 gallons is lost each year through the grabbed pipes. mayor ron emanuel - his plans to replace 880 miles of old pipes at a cost of $2 million per mile. they plan to spend 1.1 billion over the 10-year period. these pipes flush billions in revenue down the drain, because utilities can't flush the water. the water department says it's replacing old and leaky pipes first. >> when we talk about the metro area, we must mention transportation. at atlanta, the busiest airport, 250,000 people flying in and out every day. over 80% of americans are
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two hours away on an air plane. things are working efficiently there, and clearly there's room for expansion as air travel increases over the years to come. then we have this. this interstate, many interstates like this, crowded and packed. six, seven lanes wide. a big problem for traffic jams in the city of atlanta. lawmakers passed a $250 bond to improve roads and do expansions, and then if we look at the train system, public transportation system. not so good. known to be a train that goes from point a to b. don't get many of the commuters to where they want to be, and here in the nearby suburbs, which this is the final train stop, people need more access to downtown atlanta. more major companies are coming in like mercedes
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and porscha, and they need control of how to get downtown. law-makers are looking at an $8 million expansion to go five or so exits up that way. that $8 million - no one knows how they'll pay for that yet. it will take about a decade to complete when approved, so that will be a hot topic in the next year when lawmakers convene their sessions. >> when you talk about ageing infrastructure in new york. you don't have to go further than the subway system. this is a system that more and more people rely on, an average 5.6 million ride the trains, pretty much double what was in the 1980s, if we take a look around at the 468 trains throughout the city, two-thirds are 90 years old.
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a pressing issue is antiquated technology to ensure the safe movement of train. the infrastructure used to space out trains was built in the 1930s. all but one train line relies on the antiquated technology. of the subway signals, they were built to last 50 years, a third have exceeded shelf life. all with an urgent need to upgrade. this is one line upgraded to a computerized system. upgraded. to get the system up to this level, it will cost billions, and take decades. here in new york, there's a 32 billion project. the city and the state are fighting over how to divvy up the costs.
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were there seems to be general agreement that the system needs to move into the future, what is there. >> next, pennsylvania is the poster child of dangerously dilapidated bridges and roads. i'll talk to the person charged with making the repairs. we'll here her plans when we come back. >> i don't really know what's going to happen to me. >> oscar winner alex gibney's hard-hitting series, "edge of eighteen". >> i'm never going to apologize for the type of person that i am. >> facing tough challenges. >> we do feel cheated by the american university process. >> taking a stand. >> it's gonna be on my terms on how i want it to be. >> boldly pursuing their dreams. >> what did i do? >> the lives of american teenagers.
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for more on america's broken infrastructure, i'm here in pennsylvania. the state is notorious for the continue of roads and bridges. one in four bridges is considered structurally deficient, according to the american society of civil engineers, and the philadelphia area where i am has some of the longest come ute times in the nation. lesley richards joins me from harrisburg. she assumed the office of the state of transportation. thank you for joining us. hi, glad to be here. >> let me ask you. the country gets a d plus for infrastructure. peninsula gets a c minus, you are doing better than the country. that's the grade that the
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american society of civil engineers gives america on infrastructure. this is not something we'd accept from our kids if they go home. how do the states deal with a c minus. it's a heavily trafficked state. what happens here? >> a lot of it comes down to our ageing infrastructure, and we are all getting to the senior citizen age. a lot of our infrastructure is 60, 70, 80 years old, and they are reaching life spans. years of deferred maintenance, when there was not enough funding. today. >> is that going to be the case, that we fix things, and 40, 50 years down the road. this is not peninsula specific, but it happens around the north-east where there's ageing infrastructure.
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is there a better way to deal with this, we are not getting ahead. we are not building the new stuff. >> that is what we are doing now. we are getting in front of the issue, we have to make up a lot of backlog, that again was caused by some deferred maintenance. here in pennsylvania, due to a bipartisan support for transportation funding, we are able to get ahead of that number. so, for instance, we are now fixing an average, you know, between 400 and 500 bridges a year, and keeping on track and improving the bridge numbers. one in four. we'll look at the miles paved. we are getting ahead of that. not only will we keep things in a state of good repair.
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>> you mentioned bridges. d plus is the grade for bridges in pennsylvania. as you said, it's the highest number in the nation as a percentage. the 94-year-old greensvill bridge, is the one people think about, they built a net underneath to catch the debris falling off the bridge. where do you draw the line, we don't have money to pay for the maintenance. what happens in terms of new building and infrastructure to make it more competitive. we have to be careful how to fund the counter project and look at new
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projects. we need to take a long-term look. like all good funding has to do, whether you bounce around the checkbook or the infrastructure of a state or country. we are prioritizing making sure maximum. >> what is the best way to bridge the infrastructure funding gaps. obviously pened pennsylvania is not getting the money it would like to get. should we look at more in the way of public-private partnerships. the rest of the world does this better than america does. >> that's what we are doing here in pennsylvania. we have a p3 public-private partnership tool. we use it on the bridges. we have a programme where we'll replace 558 structurally deficient bridges within the
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next three years. we were going to get it down. not only under three years. but within life expectation si of a minimum of 25 years, and many cases there are 45 years. a lot of nearby towns are railway towns, it feels that way. it's passenger rail. in april, you were quoted as saying that the department of transportation works with other agencies to make sure inspections on oil trains are taking place. a lot of oil moves through. in july bob casey brought up the fact that the railway association needs more bridge inspectors. there's one for the state, for 9-00 spans. is that correct. it seems dangerous. >> the numbers i would have to go back over.
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i don't have them at the tip of my tongue. i know that we did, and they funded a study that was completed. looking at that issue, we want to be proactive. the right number of inspectors to make sure that it is safe here in pennsylvania. particular a rail that is carrying volatile materials. >> i guess in this state you know the bridges, they hit the news. about amtrak. this is a big corridor. we know about the freight, the oil trains, this is something that worries everyone. i read a report saying we basically lose 48 hours a month, a year in time, more than anyone else does, they get stuck in traffic congestion. what worries you the most when
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it comes to traffic infrastructure, what are your priorities or what worries you the most. >> of course, we want to make sure that everything is safe, that all the bridges are inspected. every other year, the structurally deficient bridges, they are inspected. if there's a sign of weakness, if there's a concern. heavy loads don't go over them. if we need to, we close them. everyone should feel comfortable. congestion is an issue. everyone feels stressed if they can't get to where they would be. whether it's a baseball game or a during's appointment. we have a green light go programme looking at the intersection and traffic signals
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and see how they act the best they can. we have signals that read the traffic lines, and they turn green to allow the longest line of traffic to go first and allow the them to move and work with municipalities to make sure they were in line with the goals. we know how it flows with the community, making sure they know all the funding available. and we work in any way we can to keep the infrastructure at a good level of repair that's needed. >> this is a tough job you have. we wish you the best of luck. xavier richards, the pennsylvania secretary of transportation. >> the mine civil in colorado is flowing into other states. we report from the spill.
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>> al jazeera america primetime. get the real news you've bee
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by now most of us have seen the horrible images of the river in colorado turn orange. a team working with the environmental protection agency accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of toxic waste while inspecting a goldmine. the waste flooded the river for more than a week, and up to 700 gallons are leaking into the river bason. experts fear that heavy metals
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may settle into the bed. allen schauffler is the only report tor get a look at -- report ir to get a look at the gold king mines. >> reporter: the area is built by mine, hundreds of shafts cut into the hillside, we pass them as we drive the dirt roads. there's no public access to the site. we take a rocky one-lane detour around the road closure. it's slow going, a switch-back climbly the terrain, coloured by the minerals in the ground. where the road end is where the trouble starts. finally a chance to see ground zero, the entrance to the gold king mind that blue out last wednesday. it was a mine entrance dammed by a land slide which work crews were probing trying to figure out how much water built up behind it. the ugly answer, 3 million
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gallons bursting out of the mountain, flooding into the rivers. the e.p.a. received bonds below the blow out hole and around the corner of a mountain, two other mine entrances. agency administrator visited durango wednesday afternoon. >> i came from a briefing that dave and others provided to me on the status of the clean-up, the status on the monitoring of the plume. i am excited that they were fully operational and have been fully operational and they are working the issue very hard. we came to the accident site when a member of the management team. and staffers getting a first look. also an engineer with 40 years of mining who doesn't thing what can happen here, can signal an end to the mountains. giving the opportunities, what are the opportunities.
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>> they are good. we can comply with the rules. even in today's market, and metal prices, it can work. >> we could see mining grow in the silverton area. >> others are working on trying to start that. >> chances of future mining could disappear if it's designated as a toxic clean-up site. something many downstream would like to see. it could bring clean-up money, it's a contentious issue, and has been for decades, where it could slow development and kill the tourist trade. this is where the flow came down. our guide represents the city and san juan county, as a spokesman on the international management team. the funds from the list may come quickly or may take decades.
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and if the stigma is on the community, it could be devastating to the people that lived here. the infamous hole in the ground is not gushing sludge, but the goal king mine leaks the groundwater. it's been happening for years, and any clean-up. super fund or no super fund will be a small win in a bigger battle into the future. >> allen schauffler, above littleton, colorado that's our show, i'm in philadelphia, i'll be here tomorrow as well. thank you for joining us. >> there's a line of police advancing toward the crowd here. >> ferguson: city under siege.
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>> it isn't easy to talk openly on this base. >> and america's war workers. >> it's human trafficking. >> watch these and other episodes online now at have a good night. [ ♪ ] in the world of democratic politics, there are signs two candidates are heading in the opposite directions, one is turning over a personal email server to the feds and falling in the polls. the other is upgrading his new hampshire campaign headquarters after outgrowing the old one. and throw in a vice president who may be weighing in a run of his own. closing in on clinton, it's "inside story".


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