The current state of America’s infrastructure is not a recent phenomenon, it’s an issue that has grown through decades of procrastination and delay. Just ten years ago, the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis collapsed, crashing into the river below it with cars, trucks, and even a school bus filled with people. The collapse spurred the public to call for widespread infrastructure investments targeting similarly aging bridges. They wanted to prevent another collapse like this from ever happening again, yet 10 years later little has been done at all.
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) recently released a report detailing trends in investment in bridgework, finding that despite public acknowledgment of infrastructure failures, there has been little change in how we spend money on infrastructure. The ARTBA found that investment in bridge construction had increased just 8%, from $54.6 billion in 2007 to $59.2 billion in 2016. This is an incremental increase, and not nearly enough to meet the growing need for large investments in infrastructure.
Thankfully, lawmakers in Washington have demonstrated strong support in recent months for widespread investment in America’s infrastructure. President Trump has touted his $1 trillion plan to revitalize and repair American infrastructure. The President wants to invest federal funds that would incentivize further investment and truly help us to avoid incidents like that in Minneapolis a decade ago. Lawmakers in Washington should recognize the importance of infrastructure investment, and move to quickly help rejuvenate our long neglected roads and bridges.
It’s promising to see such widespread support for investing and helping our infrastructure, both from public officials and the public at large. Yet despite years of calls for more focused attention on American roads and bridges, we still have not gone far enough. While our crumbling infrastructure is currently at the fore of American discourse, it’s time to bring improving our infrastructure to the top of our list of priorities. The GAIN coalition is hopeful that Washington will soon move to encourage more investments in infrastructure, thus improving the lives and security of all Americans.