Press political representatives to make the necessary infrastructure investment
It’s time to make those promised infrastructure investments. The investment has been discussed but has yet to materialize. Considering several U.S. major disasters involving infrastructure in 2017 – such as the Oroville Dam spillway failure and the hurricane flooding in Houston – the time is now.
Our nation’s infrastructure is aging, generally poorly maintained and increasingly obsolescent. In October, the American Society of Civil Engineers released their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. The results are not good. The highest grades were for rail (B), bridges (C+), ports (C+) and solid waste (C+). Aviation, dams, drinking water and roads all received Ds. Transit received the lowest grade (D-).
In my work, I lead a group focused on dams, flood control and energy. We are well aware of the challenges that project owners face as they try to maintain aging infrastructure with limited funds. Here is my colleague, Jeff Anderson’s reaction to the ASCE report. In my many travels across the country by air and road, I too can attest to the decrepit nature of many airports and roads.
Contrast this with what I observed during my recent vacation in Italy. Friends and my wife and I visited several cities and traveled over 3,000 kilometers on Italian roads and highways. We observed Italy’s public transportation system. Upon arrival, we were favorably impressed with Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport. It was very large with modern and plentiful facilities. With the exception of public toilets, the municipal infrastructure in Rome, Florence, Lucca, Pisa and Milan was excellent and impressive. I was most impressed by Italy’s highways (autostradas). They were well designed, exceptionally well maintained and facilitated quick travel between all important cities in Italy regardless of the terrain. On one of our drives from Livorno to Genoa along the west coast – a distance of 260 kilometers – we passed through over 35 tunnels and over at least 35 high bridges. The cost to construct this autostrada was obviously enormous.
So how can the United States have airports as nice as Dubai’s, highways as good as the autobahn or autostrada, coastal flood protection for New Orleans and Houston that is as good as Holland’s? The answer is complicated. The United States has a high national debt and many competing demands for resources. However, if Italy can find the resources to build their infrastructure, so can we in the United States. Although public-private partnerships are part of the answer, increased public funding will be required if only to prime the private investment pump.
It’s incumbent on us to press our political representatives to make the necessary investments. In the second year of the Trump Administration, it’s time to make those promised infrastructure investments.
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