Let’s Look to the Middle Road

On August 5, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that argued against the merits of public investment in infrastructure. Government “investment” in infrastructure is often wasteful and tends to support decaying or stagnant technologies, according to the article.

Gregory DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S, D.WRE, president, American Society of Civil Engineers, gave a strong rebuttal to the article. He said:

“Our national highway system comprises just 4 percent of all U.S. roads, yet it revolutionized and created entire industries. Today, 40 percent of all highway traffic occurs on this system, 75 percent of heavy truck traffic and 90 percent of tourist traffic. Imagine Amazon or Coca-Cola unable to move goods easily across states. While much of this massive undertaking was planned and funded by the public sector, many private sector firms were hired to execute the work. This critical road system created jobs in the short-term and spurred long-term economic growth.

“Economic growth necessitates a well-functioning, well-connected infrastructure network. ASCE’s recent economic studies found that if the nation continues to invest at the same meager levels in infrastructure, we will see a drop of $3.1 trillion in GDP by 2020 due to the ripple effect deficient infrastructure has on our nation’s economy.

“Past generations recognized that infrastructure was essential to interstate commerce and a healthy economy. After World War II, Americans built the nation we know today by investing in their communities. Now that bill is coming due. We must modernize and maintain the system we have to keep America at the forefront in order to continue building a strong economic recovery.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you, Mr. DiLoreto.

While there is a core group of nay-sayers who believe that only market forces should deliver the needed capital for infrastructure investment, I believe it has to be a combination of public and private investment.

According to William Reinhardt, in his study “The Role of Private Investment in Meeting U.S. Transportation Infrastructure Needs” (May 2011), “Given the economic and social toll caused by traffic congestion in the U.S. and the enormous unmet demand for new highway capacity to facilitate freight movement in an increasingly competitive international market, Public-Private Partnership projects should be aggressively encouraged and supported.”

Perhaps we need to take the middle road to fixing our roads.

Mark S. Kuhar, editor
[email protected]
(330) 722-4081
Member: Construction Writers Association

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