- According to an Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) national poll of almost 2,000 registered voters released Tuesday, the majority of Americans — regardless of political affiliation — believe U.S. highway, bridge and energy grid infrastructure is in dire need of repair.
- The majority (70%) of respondents also said that federal infrastructure investment would be good for the economy, giving water infrastructure (86%), solar-powered homes (83%) and smart infrastructure (82%) priority in terms of significant future innovations.
- The AEM noted that both the Republican and Democrat presidential candidates have stated that an infrastructure overhaul is in order and urged voters to watch how closely the details of their plans fall in line with voter priorities.
Additional findings from the AEM poll:
- Respondents believe that state (76%), federal (72%) and local (70%) governments should be doing more to improve infrastructure.
- Democrats (76%), Independents (70%) and Republicans (68%) think the federal government specifically should be doing more.
- Nearly half (46%) of respondents believe U.S. infrastructure has deteriorated over the last five years, and 49% said it is the federal government's duty to fund the necessary repairs.
- Voters ages 45-64 (75%) showed the greatest concern about the state of the nation's infrastructure, while those ages 18-34 (55%) expressed the least concern. However, that younger demographic displayed the most enthusiasm for vertical farms (78%), self-driving cars (53%) and drones (52%).
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association reported earlier this year that in 2015, nearly 10% of the nation's 600,000 bridges were structurally deficient, and the USDOT said there was a 21-year, $115 billion backlog for bridge repairs as long as the country invested in them at its current pace. While the ARTBA survey covered all stages of repairs, the association said its primary concern was the soundness of older bridges that had seen heavy use.
In another alarming report, the American Society of Civil Engineers said in May that the U.S. will lose 2.5 million jobs and $4 trillion in gross domestic product over the next decade if it can't overcome the impending $1.44 trillion deficit in infrastructure funding. The ASCE said surface transportation (highways, transit) needs the most investment and that if the U.S. doesn't figure out a way to meet that need, the funding shortfall could grow to as much as $5.18 trillion by 2040.
Even though Congress passed a five-year, $305 billion highway bill in December, infrastructure funding advocates said that amount wasn't enough, and that the bill failed to establish a long-term solution. In May, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promised to roll out her five-year, $275 billion infrastructure plan to Congress within the first 100 days of her first term. And last week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that if elected, he would "at least double" the amount of investment in infrastructure proposed by Clinton.