Editor’s note: The opinions and views expressed in the association’s commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Lee Newspapers Inc. and RockRoadRecycle.
A recent Business Roundtable study found that $737 billion in public investment over 10 years would set us on the path toward reviving our national infrastructure. While those numbers seem daunting, the report also showed that every additional dollar invested in infrastructure delivers roughly $3.70 in additional economic growth over a period of 20 years.
Our organizations represent many of the companies and industries that maintain, improve, and expand our infrastructure to meet the needs of today and the future. Equipment manufacturers, asphalt paving companies and quarries supply materials to fix and modernize our infrastructure, yes. But, we are all users of this transportation system as well. We’re ready to go to work for America, but we cannot do it alone. We need policy solutions to fund and fix our infrastructure, so we can add to the millions of jobs we support and help generate millions of dollars’ more activity for our economy.
Clearly, increased investment is sound, fiscally responsible economic policy that ensures the long-term health and well-being of the infrastructure that is essential to the free movement of people and goods. Currently, the cost to commuters is a yearly average of $960, along with 42 hours of wasted travel time and 3.1 billion gallons of wasted fuel. By investing in improving our infrastructure, hard-working American families will see their disposable incomes increase by an average of $1,400 every year.
We were encouraged that both President Trump and Vice President Pence recently promised an infrastructure bill by year-end when speaking with a bipartisan group of more than 30 governors. The president even pushed them to urge their senators and representatives to craft the necessary legislation.
Poll after poll has shown that Americans want their federal government to improve their roads, highways and bridges. In the November 2018 elections, Californians even voted to keep an increased user fee on motor fuel to fund improvements to infrastructure. Nationwide, voters approved 96 state and local transportation ballot measures worth nearly $31 billion in 2018.
We are looking forward to Infrastructure Week this year, May 13–20, to focus attention on our nation’s needs — but we cannot only talk about these issues once a year. We’re urging Congress to provide a bipartisan solution before May that addresses funding in a way that a majority of members and their constituents can support. We need every member of Congress to leverage every tool at their disposal to pay for badly needed infrastructure maintenance, repair and modernization.
The Trump administration and Democrats and Republicans in the new Congress have all pointed to a willingness to work together on a comprehensive infrastructure package. It’s time to turn that willingness into action.
There are no more excuses. If voters are clamoring for better infrastructure, then there is no excuse for Congress and the administration to ignore the issue. It is time to work together to find a way.
Dennis Slater is president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which has over 1,000 members located across the United States and Canada.Audrey Copeland, Ph.D., P.E., is the president and CEO of the National Asphalt Pavement Association which represents the interests of the asphalt pavement material producer and paving contractor on the national level with 1,200 member companies. Michael W. Johnson is president and CEO of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association which represents 90 percent of the crushed stone and 70 percent of the sand and gravel consumed annually in the United States.