US infrastructure not 'crumbling,' report says
- A recent RAND Corp. report contradicts much of the conventional wisdom about the state of the nation's infrastructure, according to Route Fifty.
- RAND researchers said that while there is indeed a maintenance backlog and issues with quality in some places in the U.S., not all of the nation's infrastructure is in a significant state of disrepair nor has government funding declined drastically as some advocates of a massive repair and modernization program have declared.
- Congress and the Trump administration are working on an infrastructure bill. The Rand report suggests: keeping the municipal-bond tax exemption; trying out mileage-based fees as a financing mechanism; increasing the use of technology and sponsoring research to develop it; concentrating on federal infrastructure assets; focusing on resilient design; and fast-tracking federal reviews. The report also said that any spending program needs to be targeted, keep the requirements of each location in mind and consider the limitations of current policies.
During his campaign, President Trump outlined a plan to launch a $1 trillion infrastructure program – helped by about $800 billion of private sector-financing – in order to beef up transportation systems and other public assets. But advocates for increased infrastructure spending were around long before Trump took the stage.
One major call to action in the last few years was published in a 2015 USA Today opinion piece penned by Brendan Bechtel, chairman and CEO of the Bechtel Group, who referred to the country's infrastructure as "crumbling, unsafe, environmentally unfriendly and productivity-choking." He advocated for the increased use of public-private partnerships (P3s), and for Congress to explore establishing an infrastructure investment bank as a way of tackling the large task of repair and modernization.
Since then, reports from industry associations have reinforced some of Bechtel's claims of widespread, deficient infrastructure. The most recent information from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said that about 9% of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient and that it would take up to $700 billion to fix them all, according to U.S. News & World Report.
News from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is even worse; the ASCE estimated that it would take $4.6 trillion to complete all necessary U.S. infrastructure work by 2025. This is an increase of $1 trillion since the organization's previous report in 2013.
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