“Dangerous road conditions were a significant factor in 1/3 of all traffic fatalities last year, and Americans spent 4.2 billion hours stuck in traffic.”
Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) recently took to The Hill‘s Congress Blog to call attention to the “need to nation build at home.” In the post, Higgins stresses the importance of infrastructure investments:
A $1.2 trillion investment in rebuilding American roads, bridges, transit and water systems would create 27 million jobs over the next 5 years. In the first year alone, the economy would add 5.2 million new jobs and grow by $400 billion. In the second year unemployment would be reduced to 5.6%. These are among the findings of the New America Foundation report The Way Forward.
Nearly everybody agrees that America’s infrastructure is broken and is in need of immediate repair and replacement. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave America a D grade in infrastructure quality and has estimated that $2.2 trillion is needed to bring our nation’s infrastructure to good repair. The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks the United States 24th in infrastructure quality.
Higgins zeroes in on bridge modernization to employ engineers, architects, and construction workers as well as provide a needed safety boost.
Transportation for America reports that there are 69,223 structurally deficient bridges nationwide, including 2088 in New York State and 99 in Western New York. In fact, every second of every day seven cars drive on a bridge that is structurally deficient. Dangerous road conditions were a significant factor in 1/3 of all traffic fatalities in last year, and Americans spent 4.2 billion hours stuck in traffic due to congestion costing $78.2 billion or $710 per American motorist.
Implementation of a pro-active infrastructure plan should be obvious. The amount of work it would produce would help stimulate the economy and boost local tax revenue. As Higgins notes, the cost of doing this work is only going up:
Put simply, a $1 million road repair project today not undertaken will cost $5 million in 2014. A $5 million bridge repair project will cost $25 million in 2014.
What’s more, a 5 year $1.2 trillion program would create such robust economic activity that it would generate an additional $592 billion in federal tax revenues. That is to say our country would be purchasing $1.2 trillion in needed upgrades for a net cost of only $608 billion, nearly half off.
Higgins also highlights the Helmets to Hardhats program that creates opportunities for returning service veterans to begin careers in the construction trades.
The Department of Defense sponsored a “Helmets to Hardhats” program to accelerate apprenticeship training and job placement for returning Veterans. “Helmets to Hardhats” is now a non-profit organization working with fifteen construction trade unions and 80,000 private contractors and businesses. The current unemployment rate for returning Veterans’ under the age 24 is an unacceptably high 38%. This proposal carries on this legacy by requiring that the grants encourage the training and employment of veterans.
Read Higgins’ entire piece HERE.