It’s time to invest in infrastructure

Published 10:00 am Friday, December 23, 2016

When it comes to the state of America’s transportation and energy infrastructure, there are many troubling facts.

Such as, infrastructure investment has fallen by 40 percent in the last 20 years. 25 percent of America’s bridges are deficient or obsolete. 30 percent of our bridges have exceeded their 50-year design life. Poor roads contribute to 33 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Truck delays add $7.6 billion a year to the cost of American-made products. Lack of adequate pipelines cost many utilities to pay billions more to produce power in 2013.

Here are some hard truths when it comes to the economic benefits associated with infrastructure investments: every $1 billion in highway spending supports 27,800 jobs, while every $1 spent on transportation infrastructure adds up to $2 to our overall American GDP.

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All of which begs the question: What are we waiting for?

Throughout American history, the construction and maintenance of our national infrastructure has always been a core function and responsibility of our federal government. In fact, America’s Founding Fathers believed this responsibility to be so crucial to the health of our democracy that they included it in the Constitution (Article I, Sec. 8) as one of the very few enumerated powers – along with national defense – for which Congress is to be responsible.

Unfortunately, for over a generation now, Congress has failed to act adequately to fund our nation’s infrastructure.

Now, almost everyone living and working in America is paying the price with a lower standard of living. As our elected leaders begin setting priorities for a new year, the time has come to focus attention on rebuilding this country’s infrastructure. Improving the transportation and energy networks that keep America moving will, quite simply, put more people to work. Investing in these vital projects creates local jobs, leads to progress, and boosts hard-working families.

Americans must demand that Congress take responsible, immediate action that addresses this critical issue.

Anything less can only be viewed as our elected leaders in Congress ceding America’s global economic superpower status to competing countries such as China.

Investing in roads and bridges, water systems, oil and natural gas pipelines, strengthening our power grid, along with rebuilding our schools, not only creates jobs in the short-term, but lays a very strong foundation for sustained economic growth for future generations. The downstream benefit of affordable and abundant energy supplies is an area that doesn’t get much attention, yet it is an area that will put even more of our members and Ohioans to work.

It’s imperative that we modernize and rebuild our infrastructure in order to keep America a thriving, prosperous nation.

Mark Johnson is the Business Manager of the Tri-State Building & Construction Trades Council based in Ashland, Kentucky.