There are very few things that are as important to the American economy as our infrastructure. Every business, every family relies on our roads, bridges and airports to get from place to place and move goods across the country, but they have been neglected and that neglect is costing our economy billions of dollars each year, and if we do not address the issue that cost will continue to increase and the quality of our roads, bridges and airports will continue to decline.
A study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Americans wasted 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2011. Between lost production and fuel costs, our declining highway infrastructure is costing us more than $121 billion per year, or more than $800 per American consumer.
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would take an investment of $170 billion a year to make significant improvement in the quality of our roads. Currently, we are only spending $91 billion per year on highway infrastructure. If we do not make this investment now, our roads will continue to deteriorate and the cost to the economy will continue to grow.
Making the additional investment of $79 billion per year would create 600,000 jobs, with more than $23 billion in new wages and $6 billion in new tax revenue.
The American Highway Administration (FWHA) estimates that Americans make more than 2oo million trips across bridges that are structurally deficient every day. There are more than 600,000 highway bridges in America, and 1 in 9 of those are structurally deficient.
According to the FWHA, it would take an annual investment of $20.5 billion to bring these bridges to an acceptable operating condition. Currently, federal, state and local investment amounts to just $12.8 billion.
Investing the $7.7 billion in repairing our bridges would create more than 60,000 jobs, $2.3 billion in new wages and $500 million in new tax revenue.
More than 6,000 airports make up the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). In 2011, those airports accommodated 728 million passengers, while 30% of exports and 20% of imports (measured by value) were shipped by air.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), airport congestion and delays cost the economy $22 billion in 2012, with current funding for growth, those costs are expected to reach $34 billion by 2020, and $63 billion in 2040.
The FAA is currently in the process of replacing the 1960’s era radar system currently in use with the new NexGen Radar because the old system is unable to handle the growth of the industry.
The FAA predicts that in order to fund necessary expansion and new airports, it would take an increase in annual funding of $2.2 billion. If you include implementation of the NexGen Radar it would require an additional $4.3 billion in new funding. That is a fraction of what not doing anything would cost our economy.
Funding the expansion and new radar would create 15,000 new jobs, create $860 million in new wages, and generate $200 million in new tax revenue.
These are not the only segments of American infrastructure that we need to address. From ports to railroads to inland waterways, every segment of America’s infrastructure has issues that need to be addressed, but a journey is a series of steps and this is the first step in rebuilding our infrastructure.
Doing so would create more than 675,000 new jobs, $26 billion in new wages, and produce $6.7 billion in new tax revenue. When you consider that congestion and delays are currently costing the economy more than $143 billion per year, and that fixing the problem would create nearly three quarters of a million new jobs, spending $91 billion, that we will have to spend to remain competitive in the global economy, only makes sense.
While I will discuss funding in part 11 of this series, the Airport funding could be handled by adding a $3 enplanement fee for all passenger flights and adding a one half of one percent tax on the value of items shipped. All but $1 billion of the $7.7 billion needed to repair bridges will be generated in new tax revenue from these projects, the remaining billion and the $79 billion needed to fix our roads can come from making a historical adjustment to the effective corporate tax rate, which is the lowest it has been in more than 80 years.
Infrastructure plays a tremendous part in the American economy, it is one of the things that has made America great, but if we continue to neglect our infrastructure, then it will continue to decline, and our nation will follow. We cannot allow that to happen.
Eleven part series on my 9-point economic plan:
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