America’s overall infrastructure GPA? D+
Our nation’s transportation infrastructure is in especially troubling shape. Our nation’s roads and aviation system received D grades, while our ports and bridges received C+ grades. Our rail infrastructure came in with a B and our transit infrastructure received a D-.
ASCE estimates it will take $4.59 trillion by 2025 to repair the damage.
As dire as the situation is, investing in our nation’s transportation infrastructure is about more than just repairing and modernizing our roads, bridges, ports, airports, rail and transit systems. The investments that need to be made are also about growing our economy and creating good jobs for the Americans who need them most.
In case anyone needs a reminder, our economy isn’t in top shape. Yes, improvements have been made since the Great Recession, but growth rates have not returned to pre-recession levels. Thanks to a sluggish labor market and stagnating wages, working families are hurting the most.
Massive investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure – the kind ASCE and transportation labor have long called for – can help turn things around. For every $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure, more than 21,000 jobs are created across multiple sectors of the economy, including operations, maintenance, construction and design. When paired with strong Buy America laws that require transportation components, like train cars and buses, be American made, job creation is maximized.
Here’s the part that matters most, especially to those who are struggling to make ends meet: these aren’t just any jobs. They are the jobs people can raise and sustain families on. The reason? Collective bargaining is strong in transportation and infrastructure sectors and the union difference is real. Workers enjoy higher pay, better benefits and more job security than their lower-wage counterparts. Workers employed in infrastructure earn nearly 25 percent more than the average national wage.
The benefits of transportation infrastructure investment don’t end there. Every dollar invested in transportation projects returns $3.54 in economic impact. In other words, investments in transportation play a crucial role in spurring economic activity, improving quality of life and helping private businesses thrive.
All of this boils down to one, simple prospect: our political leaders need to go big or go home. Decades of neglect have left our nation’s transportation and broader infrastructure in a state of disrepair. The middle class is shrinking and working families no longer have access to the kinds of jobs that provide financial security.
President Trump has called on Congress to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package, and bipartisan support for infrastructure investment is strong. It is now up to political leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences and work together on behalf of the American people. This country needs the kind of robust investments that will restore our economy, grow our middle class and repair and modernize our nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, and we need them sooner rather than later. America’s working families and the economy can’t afford to wait much longer.