Engineering group says surface transportation lacks $846 billion

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/22/2013

The national trade association for engineers says surface transportation will fall behind an astonishing $846 billion worth of investment by the year 2020 unless Congress takes the steps to fix it. The American Society of Civil Engineers is set to publish a “report card” in March that spells out the enormity of the gap between spending and the needs of the system.

In a series of previews leading up to the report card, the president of the engineering group said the deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure – including roads and bridges, waterways, ports and electrical grids – jeopardizes safety, threatens quality of life, and harms the economy.

“Each of our proceeding reports on various infrastructure sectors demonstrated a common theme: Deteriorating infrastructure has a cascading impact on the nation’s economy, negatively affecting business productivity, gross domestic product, employment, personal income and international competitiveness,” ASCE president Gregory DiLoreto stated during a Jan. 15 teleconference.

“The message is clear: If we do not invest now, all Americans end up paying more in the long run.”

OOIDA supports a robust, federally funded system for highway and bridge infrastructure.

“These are facts that truckers don’t need to read in a report to know full well. They see the needs of the nation’s infrastructure every day when they’re out on the road,” said Ryan Bowley, OOIDA director of legislative affairs.

“Remember, we’re facing a $100 billion shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund over the next few years, and it’s important we do something to stabilize that fund, first of all, and then look long-term to address the deficits.”

OOIDA urges lawmakers to act with common sense and avoid desperate measures to find funding.

“It’s critically important as far as our nation’s competitiveness goes,” Bowley said. “With that said, it’s important the policymakers don’t fall into the trap of more tolling, public-private partnerships or straw-man deals that might pair up a diesel-tax increase with something like a truck size-and-weight increase.”

As a prelude to its annual report card, the ASCE released five reports under the title, “Failure to Act: The Impact of Current Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Future.”

In addition to the $846 billion gap for roads and bridges by 2020, the ASCE also points out a $39 billion gap for airports, $16 billion for seaports and waterways, $84 billion for drinking water, and $107 billion for electricity.

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