America’s infrastructure problem is too big to ignore


Raising Funds for Infrastructure Projects

24 states have raised gas taxes to generate infrastructure revenue in the past 4 years and 23 states passed $225 billion in transportation initiatives in 2016, including a few who are aiming to pass multi-year initiatives.


An Editorial Commentary

The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have one. That isn’t something governments necessarily do, given the often inevitable political and financial fallout.

Case in point: Many local and state governments sat on their pension problem for decades, until the issue started leaking out and they were forced to act.

America’s infrastructure problems are harder to ignore.

Although, for a variety of reasons — including an increase in materials and other repair/replace costs, lack of public investment, more pressing public service demands elsewhere — the fixes to water and highways and street problems are being delayed or patched up.

repair of streetsThe result is that our infrastructure system is getting old.


For example, the average age of a U.S. water system was about 24 years old in 1997. By 2015, the average age was approaching 26 years. Highway and streets aged even faster. During the same time period, that part of our infrastructure aged more than 5 years.


The lack of infrastructure investment is just as easy to illustrate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 2015 report notes that “estimates based on the infrastructure specific indexes indicate that such spending declined by about 9 percent,” between 2003 and 2014.

Facing few or even no options, some communities, such as Montpelier, Vt. and Nashville Ind. turned their crumbling paved streets into gravel.

Franklin County, Ala., took a slightly different approach by converting 20 miles of paved road to dirt, according to the PEW Charitable Trust.


PEW says about 70 similar conversions have occurred in at least 27 states, based on a 2015 review of the projects produced by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program.


On the plus side, 24 states have raised gas taxes to generate infrastructure revenue in the past 4 years and 23 states passed $225 billion in transportation initiatives in 2016, including a few who are aiming to pass multi-year initiatives.

The latest American Society of Civil Engineers report card has been issued for nearly 20 years and shows America that its infrastructure needs are greater than ever. Because the realities of our poor infrastructure are evident locally, some government officials have shown their leadership by passing initiatives to address the problems.

If our national government officials follow the examples of local leaders and commit to a realistic plan to begin tackling the problems, then our country will be able to start digging out of a problem that obviously won’t go away.

Bill Wolpin is Managing Director of Informa’s Government Group.

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