Wednesday, 24 September 2008« Stuck in Traffic? Looks Like You’ll Stay That Way. | Main | Halfway There - and That’s Not Bad »
I’d be lying if I said my first stop wasn’t the mall if I had that kind of cash - but after the flush of new shoes and jewelry wore off, I would get busy fixing the nation’s infrastructure. The editors at Forbes.com seem to agree with me. In a recent posting discussing U.S. Secretary Henry Paulson’s proposed $700 billion bail out for investment banks, Forbes wonders if that money might be put to better use.
Is this the right plan to shore up our destabilized financial system? I don’t know and it’s not really my area of expertise. What I do know is that every American is affected by crumbing infrastructure, and making the commitment to fix it now can’t be bad. In fact, investing in infrastructure gets a much bigger bang for the buck than just buying bad debt – we all get a speedier commute, a cleaner environment, and an easier mode of business and at the same time put hundreds of thousands of people to work in building and maintaining that infrastructure.
Luckily, I’m not alone in this thought. Leaders in Congress are currently drafting a second economic stimulus and ASCE and its coalition partners are working hard to make sure infrastructure funding is included. An early draft of the legislation released in July by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV, includes about $4.8 billion for transportation. Additionally, 10.1 billion would be spent on disaster recovery, about $360 million of that going to repair of levees and other federally constructed flood-control projects. Another $100 million would go to an emergency watershed program to assist in storm recovery, and $50 million would go to damaged dams. The bill would provide $1.5 billion to upgrade the New Orleans flood protection system to ensure against a 100-year event.
While this is a good start that will accomplish some short term goals, its only a start. The 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure pegs the cost of improving the nation’s infrastructure at $1.6 trillion. While about half of that is already being met, the need is still enormous. We can’t make all the progress overnight and spending on infrastructure isn’t the cure all for our economic woes, but that’s no excuse to let this opportunity pass us by. Let’s help those in trouble now, by providing a first class infrastructure for our children.