I spent a chunk of tonight reading a 21 page document to the members of the House of Representatives' Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure FROM the staff of said committee about infrastructure projects and its effects on economic recovery.
It basically supported my longstanding belief that the United States as a whole is severely "behind" in all of its infrastructure development AND maintenance...something that will start to show more and more each year until its effects bring us down like trying to walk with broken kneecaps (and that could literally happen...just imagine limited or even no power, water, sewer, or ways to travel...how would you function?)
Sure taxes are bad...I hate them more than anything...hard earned money "gone"...but is it really "gone"?...lets be smarter about this. Funding for infrastructure projects comes from taxes imbedded in gasoline or from roadway tolls (and many other taxes too). The truth is, our national average gasoline tax is $0.53 per gallon, and in areas like Europe, the average is over $5.00 per gallon! The truth is, our infrastructure will not last forever, and much of it is already way past its designed lifespan, and is technically not even safe to be using, and nothing is being done to repair it. And when there are large scale or even catastrophic failures, repairs are done, but with limited or no overall improvement to the system as a whole. There is simply not enough money spent on infrastructure in the United States to even SUSTAIN our current levels of infrastructure, let alone expand them to meet the demands of a still growing nation.Some quotes I found interesting from the document:
"The construction market is experiencing the biggest sustained decline...in at least four decades."
"The Commission's report...calls for an annual investment level between $225 and $340 billion -- by all levels of government and the private sector -- over the next 50 years to upgrade all modes of surface transportation to a state of good repair. The current annual capital investment from all sources in all modes of surface transportation is $85 billion."
"13.1 percent of highway bridges are classified as structurally deficient; and 13.6 percent of highway bridges are classified as functionally obsolete"
"Estimates for the nation's clean water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years exceed $400 billion...Drinking water infrastructure needs are estimated at nearly $500 billion over the next 20 years."
"Road congestion has become a major national problem...in 2005, traffic congestions cost urban motorists $78.2 billion in terms of wasted time and fuel...The effect of uncertain or longer delivery times, missed meetings, business relocations, and other congestion impacts are not included in this estimate."
(and don't forget to add another $9 billion lost in air delays)
"To create jobs while at the same time meeting important infrastructure investment needs, the House passed the Job Creating and Unemployment Relief Act of 2008 (H.R. 7110) on September 26, 2008, by a vote of 264-158...H.R. 7110 provides $61 billion in additional funding, including $30 billion for programs within...Transportation and Infrastructure..."
"[The] Transportation and Infrastructure Committee staff estimates that this $30 billion would create or sustain more than 834,000 jobs."
Some High Priority Projects Listed (with relevance to me):
Transit Category #4 of 4- New York City Transit, station rehabilitation, rail track improvements, and customer information screens. Total Cost: $680,000,000
Passenger Rail Category #3 of 3- Amtrak Engineering Projects, Emergency backup power systems for Penn Station and ADA station upgrades. Total Cost: $36,000,000
Water Quality Infrastructure Category #3 of 5- Westchester County, NY, Necessary Biological Nitrogen Removal (BNR) upgrades to treatment plants. New York State has executed an Order of Consent with the County to govern the BNR upgrades. Cost: $103,000,000
I found it very interesting that three projects out of the 17 or so that were listed in the document pertain to a system I use regularly. All of these projects are "Ready to go"...but due to funding limitations simply can not. Keep in mind this list of 17 or so projects is from a NATIONAL list...and 3 of them pertain to systems which I have personally seen "falling apart"...
This is a real issue. And many Americans don't even think 1 second a year about all the infrastructure systems they use and take for granted day after day after day. They are falling apart and failing, and sooner or later you will be forced to think about it, but by then, it might be too late.
Think northeast blackout, 2003...Think steam pipe explosion, NYC, 2007...Think Combined Sewage Overflows (raw sewage dumps due to insufficient cleaning capacity) of 850+ BILLION gallons annually in the US...Think Interstate 35 Bridge Collapse in Minnesota, 2007....Think airline delays, taxi delays, runway delays...Think city traffic, highway traffic, your average "rush hour" traffic is longer and longer every year, this is a fact...
This is a "scary" post...but when I see all this neglect...it scares me to think that after all these obvious issues that are staring us straight in our faces...there still isnt enough money being spent, even to keep our infrastructure at a level where it is currently...which is already not good...which means its only downhill from here................unless.............