Discussions between Congress and President Trump concerning an increase in investment for repairing, expanding, and modernizing the United States’ infrastructure resulted in the Committee of Economic Development of the Conference Board (CED) issuing a report, recommending numerous repairs and improvements to roads and bridges throughout the United States.
This report titled, Fixing America’s Roads & Bridges: The Path Forward, cites delayed maintenance and a growing $2 trillion, 10-year gap between investment needs and available funds as dangers to the safety and reliability of the national highway system. Presently, the Federal highway system supports more than 40% of highway traffic, 75% of heavy truck traffic and 90% of tourist traffic.
The report’s goals are threefold: to restore U.S. roads and bridges to a better state, to construct new roads and bridges where needed, and to propose the implementation of sustainable, long-term funding.
To achieve these goals, the report calls for the following tactics to be implemented:
- Greater participation from the private sector for road construction and maintenance
- Better project selection and promotion of “modal coordination” across systems
- Streamlined regulatory reviews and permitting on all levels
- Increased investments in technology
- A transition toward user fees to fund construction
- Education for the public
An Infrastructure Overhaul is Long Overdue
The CED’s report comes after decades of deterioration of U.S. roads and bridges. In March, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. The ASCE releases this report every 4 years. This year, U.S. infrastructure received a D+ grade. Other parties are beginning to realize the severity of the situation and are proposing additional solutions.
In May, Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Mark Warner (D-VA) re-introduced legislation to improve the nation’s infrastructure. They’re sponsoring the Building and Renewing for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act. “The BRIDGE Act offers a bold, bipartisan solution to help address our infrastructure needs by incentivizing private investment and pairing it with public resources,” Warner said. “This legislation will set a clear framework that will help create jobs, expand U.S. commerce and trade, and keep American businesses competitive.”
The bill calls for a 1% increase in government and private sector investments, increasing funds to 3.5% of GDP by 2025.
The problems with our aging infrastructure are quickly reaching the point where it should no longer be ignored. In the coming months we hope that a concrete plan will emerge that will restore the funding needed to maintain the highway infrastructure, and build new roads and bridges in a strategic manner to promote U.S. competitiveness in global trade.