The Overhead Wire Daily | February 8th, 2024 | The Pipes Aren’t Big Enough

February 9, 2024

One of the things we emphasize on the podcast and here at the newsletter is how everything is connected. One of my favorite targets for this connection are our roads. They mean so much to everyone and I don’t think many people understand how much they carry. It’s not just cars as many would have you believe, but people, drainage and water supply, gas and electric energy, connectivity through the internet, and commerce to name just a few main items.

And that’s why what’s happening with sea level rise in places like Charleston and all the rainfall and atmospheric rivers drenching places like California are so important in a transportation sense. Streets and the drainage below them aren’t designed for the rain events that are going to become more commonplace with climate change. Engineers agree that we just can’t retrofit all the pipes under all the streets that are designed for five to ten year flood events that will become even more frequent.

As the New Republic article cited above notes, we need to be focusing on ways to not allow the water to get into the pipes as fast through green infrastructure like retaining ponds, creating space for rivers to overflow, and bioswales on streets. We could even fix up our lawns and yards to do a better job of collecting excess runoff and support biodiversity at the same time.

Perhaps this is where the highway widening money could go that the trades are worried would disappear when we stop building highways. Street level water management. Maybe we could also create some transportation changes that make us safer as well. Changing large systems like roads is hard, but it is necessary unless we want to get swept away.


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