Infrastructure Needs to be a Major Election Issue
"Road, bridge and other important public-works infrastructure continue to age and deteriorate as Congress dithers elsewhere. Only disasters move our representatives to act - and in an election year, even those actions seem spotty at best and disingenuous at worst.
The United States has much more than failing bridges to find, fund and fix. The proposals of the remaining presidential candidates do little to inspire faith that they understand the breadth of the problem or have the political skill, will and courage to address it forthrightly.
The United States needs to spend $225 billion annually - more than twice what it does now - for the next 50 years. That's more than $11 trillion worth of fix-ups on surface transportation systems alone.
But at the moment, the only bill of significance floating through Congress is the National Infrastructure Bank Act written by Sens. Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel. It's backed by the American Society of Civil Engineers because it "would establish an independent entity of the federal government to evaluate and finance ‘capacity-building' infrastructure projects of substantial regional and national significance [emphasis added] " The word "local" is absent from the bill, so those potholes ruining your car's suspension will just have to wait.
What about refineries, pipelines, mass transit systems, transmission lines for electricity, air traffic control, weather forecasting systems, and aging chemical and nuclear plants?
Failure to address long-standing, critical infrastructure needs is a threat to national security. But the political stances taken by the remaining presidential candidates, as evidenced by issues positions on their Web sites, do not reflect necessary urgency regarding the nation's infrastructure needs. Their positions are vague, and financial proposals offer a scant percentage of what's needed."