The predicament, as a whole, is that we cannot afford them.
Infrastructure quality is, like so many things, directly proportionate to investment. You can trade off future maintenance by spending more initially, or vice versa, but you can't magically reduce both at the same time while providing the same level of service.
This is precisely the same problem as Terry Pratchett talked about in the boots theory of economics: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/72745-the-reason-that-the-ri...
The problem is that the level of economic productivity supported by (for example) a strip mall is so low that it cannot support the ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure that is required to allow it to exist. This is also true for many suburban homes and office buildings.
You must either extract more productive value from the same land area and population, reduce service quality, or invest massive quantities of capital in maintenance cost reduction, which has virtually the same effect as either of the previous.
Umm is that really true ? Maybe it is I just don't see why this would be - if anything I would guess spending more would lead to more expensive maintenance as well
> but you can't magically reduce both at the same time while providing the same level of service.
Not magic - innovation.
Of course, asphalt is cheaper and easier to put down, so there is always the temptation to go ahead and build the asphalt road now and take credit for it in front of voters while leaving the problem of maintaining those roads for the next person in office.
if anything I would guess spending more would lead to
more expensive maintenance as well
Of course, not all more expensive products last longer, so careful attention to value for money is a must.
Or you can upgrade to asphalt - lasts much longer, much lower maintenance in terms of required manpower and visits to remain functional, etc.
Or, if you want to go the whole way, you can use reinforced concrete or a slab paver setup, they will last ~30-50 years depending largely on traffic (asphalt tends to degrade even with little traffic).
That's what I mean. It's about a 3x initial cost difference between each of the tiers, but your long term maintenance costs go down the more you spend. It's not a strict one-to-one, but still.
> Umm is that really true ?
Maybe not universally, but often, yes. E.g., you can build using more expensive materials that will last longer/are more resistant to environmental decay.
I can't say that asphalt roads in disrepair are much better, but potholes tend to be more quickly fixed than slightly mis-aligned sections of concrete roads.
> Not magic - innovation.
Innovation is great, but in most cases requires new upfront expenses that have already been covered for existing solutions. We already have a fairly good amount of infrastructure for producing infrastructure, so usually innovation is one of the ways you can spend more upfront to reduce long term maintenance.