On the Issues‎ > ‎


posted Feb 15, 2016, 11:44 AM by Lane Siekman   [ updated Jul 31, 2017, 2:53 PM ]
NEWS ITEM: Only after Indiana saw a month-long interstate bridge closure, $71 million wasted in faulty asphalt, and a public relations crisis – Mike Pence announced his infrastructure plan, leaving out any aid for the state’s local roads and bridges. – Indy Star, 10.13.15

It seems that everyday, we see or hear of problems with America’s infrastructure. Rebuilding our infrastructure is a way to both create jobs and address the rampant infrastructure problems that are accumulating in our country.Our roads, bridges, dams, grids, and more have not kept up with the pace of our country’s growth, or the advances in technology. We have to take action.

We are long overdue to refurbish our country’s infrastructure. Any American who deals with potholes, slow internet service, and the unavailability of public transit – among other numerous and regular inconveniences – knows this first-hand. We can also put Americans to work on addressing our infrastructure problems with well-paying jobs that will contribute to economic growth for families and communities across the country.

What is infrastructure? Infrastructure is the basic physical stuff which makes our civilization work: roads, bridges, dams, electrical grids, railways, airports, waterways, and phone and internet lines. Well-maintained infrastructure increases transportation efficiency, decreases threats posed by natural disasters, and promotes economic growth.

The most identifiable piece of American infrastructure is the Interstate Highway System. This development was signed into law by Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Its benefits have been overwhelmingly positive for both business and everyday citizens.

Is our infrastructure really “crumbling”? Yes. In its annual report card on the nation’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the United States a cumulative grade of D+. In 2010 alone, it was estimated that deficiencies in surface infrastructure from potholes and outdated rail lines to collapsing bridges cost us $130 billion between property damage and lost time.

Recent examples of bridge collapses in California, Washington, Texas, Missouri, and Minnesota only serve to underline this growing problem. America once led the world in building and maintaining a nationwide network of safe and reliable bridges and roads. Today, nearly a quarter of the nation’s 600,000 bridges have been designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. 

How can we afford investing $1 trillion in infrastructure? We can’t afford not to! According to a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), federal spending on transportation and water infrastructure since 2003 has decreased by 19 percent (23 percent with respect to new infrastructure) while only a 6 percent increase in spending on operations and maintenance has developed in its place. According to the report:
  1. 24.9 percent of bridges are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient, over which more than 200 million trips are taken daily
  2. 42 percent of major urban highways are congested, costing us $101 billion annually and increasing carbon emissions
  3. 32 percent of roads are in poor or mediocre condition, which adds up to a cost of $324 per motorist every year
  4. It’s clear that our infrastructure needs serious help. 
The most important point is that rebuilding our infrastructure is an investment in our economic future. Independent studies show that, in the short-term, non-residential construction generates nearly twice as much economic activity as money spent ($1.92 per $1 spent). This means that for every dollar we put into our infrastructure, we get almost two dollars back in immediate economic impact. The long-term impact is even more significant at well over three times what we spend ($3.21 per $1 spent).

Rebuilding Will Provide Jobs. Fixing our infrastructure would give American workers good-paying jobs, stimulate our economy, and boost our national productivity. According to a research paper by Standard & Poor, infrastructure investment would create about 29,000 construction jobs for a mere $1.3 billion in spending, and many more jobs indirectly. Additionally it estimated a $2 billion growth in real GDP for the same amount, making it a deficit-negative investment.

13 million good paying jobs could be created by the 5-year, $1 trillion investment. Forbes Magazine puts the estimate at closer to 27 million for a similar $1.2 trillion investment over 5 years.

Increased jobs result in increased spending among average Americans, which further stimulates economic growth in other sectors. Increased efficiency results in lower transportation costs, as well as saving companies and individual citizens money on both fuel and time. Last, but not least, increasing the safety and reliability of infrastructure prevents extended damage and emergency repairs, avoiding the costs of medical emergencies, related property damage, and human lives.