New Center for American Progress Report Outlines a Comprehensive Approach to U.S. Infrastructure for the 21st Century and Beyond

ironworkers on bridge

Ironworkers secure a cross member on a highway bridge under construction in Cleveland, August 2013. Source: AP/Mark Duncan

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)–July 14, 2016.   Many of America’s critical infrastructure assets have come to the end of their useful life and need major repairs or reconstruction. Additionally, over the next 50 years, the United States will add nearly 100 million people, requiring system expansion in order to meet growing demand for mobility, clean water, and flood control, to name only a few areas. Yet, for too long, Congress has failed to provide robust funding to meet our national needs. This has left state and local governments without a strong federal partner.

Today, the Center for American Progress released a major new report outlining a comprehensive approach to repairing and expanding the country’s infrastructure. The plan detailed in CAP’s report not only calls for increasing investment across sectors but also for substantial policy reforms to ensure that federal funds flow to the projects that will generate the greatest economic, social, and environmental return on investment—an approach that will pay dividends for generations to come.

“All too often, policymakers only focus on infrastructure when something fails. This reactive, patchwork approach doesn’t provide local leaders with the sustained and predictable support necessary to plan and build for the future. We must find the resolve to do what is needed—not merely what is convenient and of the moment until the news cycle moves on.” said Kevin DeGood, Director of Infrastructure Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Investments in infrastructure are investments in the middle class, in our economic security, and in our global competitiveness.”

The CAP report calls for Congress to increase annual federal expenditures across infrastructure sectors by a total of $500 billion over 10 years through a combination
of increased user fees and tax code changes to raise general fund revenues, an investment that will raise overall economic output by $691 billion. Furthermore, Congress should establish a national infrastructure investment authority, or NIIA, to provide competitive grant funds, low-cost financing, and expedited environmental review and permitting, CAP’s report says. The NIIA would have a capitalization of $125 billion and offer flexible terms such as deferred or back-loaded repayment and fully subordinate debt not available in the municipal bond market.

The report also calls for reforms to federal infrastructure programs to increase accountability and ensure that each dollar produces the greatest possible social, environmental, and economic return on investment. Such reforms are aimed at improving transparency and accountability through expanded data collection, reporting, and performance management, as well as increasing the share of federal funds distributed through competitive grant programs as opposed to formulas based more on politics than need or return on investment.
Beyond repairing and expanding critical facilities, CAP’s plan would deliver real benefits to working families by creating 3.6 million good-paying jobs. For instance, the average heavy-construction wage is $29.60 hourly. This translates to an annual income of $59,263—greater than the median household income in 2014, which was $53,657.

Click here to read “An Infrastructure Plan for America: How Investing in Infrastructure Will Lay the Foundation for Prosperity, Advance Environmental Goals, and Rebuild the Middle Class” by Kevin DeGood, Christian Weller, and Andrew Schwartz.