If it was a snake, it would have bitten us by now.
- A power outage at this year’s Super Bowl delays one of the world’s biggest sporting and most-viewed televised events
- U.S.ports are bypassed for Canada because the nation’s ports lack ability to handle “new breed mega ships”
- Mississippi River barge traffic is routinely halted by shallow water levels and lock/dam failures
- I-35 West Minneapolis bridge collapses
- One third of air travelers experience late arrivals/departures or diverted/canceled flights
U.S.infrastructure failures are occurring right under our nose, but for some reason leaders aren’t taking notice. The result is an economy more and more snake bitten. Two separate reports – one by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the other by Building America’s Future – released two days apart in January shed light on the dimming conditions.
Calling infrastructure the “lifeblood of our economy” and the “foundation for assuring a high quality of life for all Americans,” ASCE President Gregory E. DiLoreto’s group said if the U.S. increases its infrastructure spending by $1.25 trillion over the next eight years it would save $3.1 trillion in gross domestic product, $1.1 trillion in trade and 3.5 million jobs. The $157 billion more a year over the next eight years in infrastructure spending would be in addition to the $207 billion a year the nation is expected to pay for infrastructure through 2020.
According to the ASCE, current U.S. policies will under fund surface transportation, waterways, the electrical grid and sewers by about $1.1 trillion over the next eight years. By not increasing infrastructure spending, American households and businesses will suffer $611 billion and $1.2 trillion in costs, respectively.
This continued neglect of the nation’s infrastructure has already cost the U.S.on the world level. A bipartisan report by Building America’s Future states: “Our competitors tore a page out of America’s success story, applied the lessons to their own systems and challenges, and now they’re sprinting ahead of us.”
Once heralded for its world-class infrastructure, the U.S.’s current “striking lack of vision,” according to the Building America’s Future report, has it falling in the global ranks:
- U.S. rail infrastructure ranks 18th by the Economic Forum
- U.S. air transportation is 30th behind Malaysia and Panama
- The eight largest U.S.ports, combined, handle less cargo containers a year than the Port of Shanghai
- With only two East Coast ports able to serve the modern-day larger ships, cargo from China heads to Canada instead
What makes the nation’s worsening infrastructure even more incredulous is that as much as 60 percent of U.S.-made products are exported. The U.S.economy is based on exporting products and it can’t do it.
“Other countries are building their ports and modernizing their ports, and making it so that once you get (goods) into port you’re able to move things around the country,” said Building America’s Future President Marcia L. Hale. “We can’t export unless we find a way to move these goods that are made in the United States to our trading partners.”
While countries are investing in infrastructure even in hard economic times – because they’re looking at the long-term benefits – the U.S. is spending about what it did on infrastructure in 1968 when adjusted for inflation.
Building America’s Future recommends greater infrastructure investment, utilizing federal funds on projects designed to ease bottlenecks and expand capacity at ports and key junctures, forming an infrastructure bank and encouraging innovative approaches that will bring more private financing to public works projects.
Two reports released in the same week in January pointed out the nation’s infrastructure failings at the domestic and global levels, a third report released in February, two days after a championship game power outage, shows each American driver losing $818 annually due to wasted time and fuel sitting in congested traffic. Things are occurring right under our noses when it comes to the nation’s infrastructure – and economically it has already bitten us.