Building America’s Future (BAF), a bipartisan, national infrastructure coalition co‐chaired by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I‐NYC), former Governor Ed Rendell (D-PA) and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R‐CA), has released shocking new numbers that show how far behind America’s investment in infrastructure is lagging.
In 2005, the United States was ranked first overall in the World Infrastructure Ranking, but by 2010 we slipped to number 15. The BAF report, “Falling Apart and Falling Behind”, shows hard-line proof that decades of neglect has placed us in an unenviable situation that we must make major efforts to remove ourselves from.
According to the BAF press release:
“There are always excuses to delay tough decisions, but the time has come for the U.S. to commit to a long‐term infrastructure revitalization plan that invests at least $200 billion a year,” said former Governor Ed Rendell (D‐PA), co‐chair of Building America’s Future. “It should focus on transportation but should also include our water and wastewater systems, our dams, our electric grid and our broadband system. At a time when our nation is crying out for job creation, this plan can produce millions of good paying American jobs over a sustained period of time.”
Political refusal to sign into law a new, comprehensive infrastructure plan has left the U.S. with an outdated, overused, and inefficient system that hemorrhages close to $200 billion a year. The kind of plan BAF recommends would seek to solve America’s air congestion problem as well as rebuild highways, ports, and bridges.
Our passenger transport system, especially in our major metropolitan regions, is also burdened with costly congestion as passenger travel increases. Largely run on gasoline, our transportation system is environmentally, politically, and economically unsustainable. We have the world’s worst air traffic congestion, in part because we are still using the radar-based air traffic control system developed in the 1950s.
While the U.S. has been falling behind, the EU, Canada, China, and Australia have all made unprecedented investments in their infrastructure to position themselves at the cutting edge of the global economy. China now has six of the world’s top 10 busiest ports and the Shanghai port moves more container traffic yearly than the top seven American ports combined.
More than just improved ports and roads are needed to help the United States catch up to its Far Eastern counterparts. High speed trains would play a pivotal role as well. The full report shows that an American train, running at an average of 42 MPH, can make the 711 mile trip from New York City to Chicago in 17 hours. By comparison, high speed trains running at an average of 168 MPH, can make the 819 mile trek from Beijing to Shanghai in 5 hours. Many Tea Party governors have made high speed trains a target in their war against Obama, refusing to build them under the auspices of taxpayer savings. However, building high speed trains will take stress off of the air congestion problem (a quarter of flights in the U.S. arrive more than 15 minutes late), create hundreds of thousands of jobs overnight, and help modernize our transportation methods. The rest of the world has long seen high speed rail as a boost for their infrastructure and economy.
According to the BAF report, “there are more than 15,000 miles of true high‐speed rail in operation around the world, essentially none of which is in the U.S.”
The issue of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure is one that should go hand in hand with talk of how to reinvigorate our economy. We are losing money from our current, ineffective system and are wasting large amounts of fossil fuels in the process. There are hopes that a cleaner and more eco-friendly transportation system can be built. These facts combined with the economic stimulus that will come from the multitudes of workers that will be needed to fulfill a comprehensive investment show that infrastructure improvements can be a major factor in getting America out of its economic rut.
“In Washington, everyone is talking about the need to fix the economy, but our long‐term economic prospects will only get weaker the longer Congress allows our infrastructure to crumble,” said Mayor Bloomberg (I‐NYC), co‐chair of Building America’s Future. “As Congress stands idly by, our competitors around the world are racing ahead – especially when it comes to building modern transportation networks. Washington needs to get into gear transforming our infrastructure or else our economy will be stalling out for decades to come.”
The overall recommendation of the Building America’s Future report is that the U.S. government take on a six-year transportation bill that will help the country compete in the global economy as well as make financial sense for our struggling nation by including incentives and promoting accountability:
The new bill must move from an essentially recycled version that thinly distributes funds based on archaic formulas and political expediency to a plan that sets clear priorities and makes hard choices based on increasing economic return and mobility while reducing congestion and pollution. As a result, the investment strategy will focus on projects that will yield results—Next Gen aviation system; high-speed rail in key corridors; freight rail; public transit; and maintenance of our crumbling transportation network.
The Executive Summary of the report “Falling Apart and Falling Behind” can be found HERE