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Opinion: We Must Fix Our Crumbling Infrastructure


Most Americans who traveled during this Thanksgiving holiday came face to face with an American reality: while there is much to be thankful for, our infrastructure is not one of those things.

The fact is that our aviation, rail and roads are not adequate. They need to be modernized, along with the rest of the United States’ transportation network.

The bad news is that America is in disrepair.

The good news is that fixing it not only puts Americans to work, but it creates a more competitive America and spurs business opportunities.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the United States needs to make a $2.2 Trillion investment in infrastructure over five years.

Investing in our infrastructure is also an issue that the biggest spenders on campaigns on both sides of the political aisle support.

The AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce agree on very little, they are bitter political foes. One thing they do agree on, however, is the need for infrastructure investment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that our inefficient transportation system costs the U.S. GDP $1 trillion. According to the Chamber, we lose more than $78 billion a year in lost time and fuel every year.

If, in the long term, we want to compete with emerging economies there is no choice. We cannot afford a second-class infrastructure unless we want a second-class future for our children and for future generations.

For decades, America has spent billions connecting roads and sewer lines to cow pastures turned into house developments disconnected from where we work.

Now we need to figure out how to deal with the sprawl and how to get people to work efficiently.

Given the fiscal reality of 2012 we can no longer afford to spend money without a strategic plan for our infrastructure. America needs a National Infrastructure Strategy and to tie federal dollars to such a plan. States and communities are free to spend dollars as they wish, but federal dollars should not play a role.

In the weeks ahead this space will devote more attention to our faltering infrastructure, the need for a strategic plan and for an Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank.

As we return from the biggest travel period of the year and Congress takes on our fiscal future it is a fitting time to talk about steps that will create economic growth and new jobs.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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