I have been talking about the need to rehabilitate our aging infrastructure for years now. As a structural engineer whose career has focused on bridges, my emphasis has been on surface transportation needs.
The release of ASCE’s latest “Failure to Act” report this month has made me more aware of the extent that marine ports, inland waterway sectors and airports are also in need of investment if we hope to have a strong U.S. economy in the years to come.
According to our report, between now and 2020, the nation’s marine port and inland waterway infrastructure will need $30 billion for maintenance e and expansion to satisfy demand.
With airports, Failure to Act states the investment need through 2020 to be $114 billion. But the report’s study shows that funding in each sector is projected to fall significantly short of the need. It’s apparent that such gaps will harm our economy and hamper our country’s global competitiveness.
Those of us who don’t work in marine specialties don’t realize how critical our nation’s marine ports and inland waterways are to international commerce. Aging ports and waterways decrease efficiency, leading to congestion and delays in goods bound for shipment. The domino effect leads to higher transportation costs and higher-priced products on store shelves.
Unless we get more serious about reversing the impact aging infrastructure has on our quality of life, we’re going to see the U.S. become a shrinking player in the global marketplace, and employment, personal income and GDP will all fall. I encourage you to review our latest Failure to Act report if you haven’t already, as well as the previous three in the series, and spread the message they report to everyone from family and friends to public officials.
What’s your impression of these reports? What are your thoughts about solutions? Share them in the comments below.