Crumbling Infrastructure is Slowing Recovery

Tuesday, 02 Aug 2011 12:00 AM

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Two recent studies show that crumbling infrastructure is substantially slowing U.S. economic recovery.

The American Society of Civil Engineers says that deteriorating surface transport infrastructure will cost the economy more than 870,000 jobs by 2020 and suppress GDP by $3,100 billion.

The ASCE gave the U.S. a “D,” classifying one in every five bridges as “structurally deficient,” meaning it needs significant maintenance, repair or replacement in order to be safe.

The group’s report says If investments in surface transport are not made within the next decade, businesses will pay an added $430 billion in costs and exports will fall by $28 billion.

“The U.S. is not going to be competitive with the rest of the world if we don’t have the proper infrastructure,” UPS CEO Scott Davis tells the Financial Times, adding that a delay of five minutes a day per truck costs is company $100 million a year.

“The way we’re going to have jobs is by growing and exporting. We need to be able to compete with the developing world but we can’t unless we have the infrastructure.”

A study from The World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 23rd in the world for overall infrastructure quality, which notes that car and truck traffic has doubled in the past 25 years, but highway lane miles have increased by only 4.4 percent.

The U.S. spends only 2.4 percent of gross domestic product on infrastructure – less than half the average of 5 percent that prevails in European countries – and half the level of 1960, according to the Department of Treasury.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica has introduced a transportation plan that would be fully funded using existing revenue sources, without requiring money from the general fund.

However, Mica's bill has been criticized by transportation advocates, who say it doesn't spend nearly enough to maintain roads and bridges.

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