Obama budget increases spending on infrastructure

President Obama's budget for next year includes hundreds of billions for new infrastructure projects and repairs to the nation's roads and bridges. But it could take years before any work actually begins.

Jeremy Hobson: In Washington today, President Obama will submit his 2013 budget request to Congress. And one of the signature pieces is expected to be hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on infrastructure.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports now on how long it would take to get those projects going, if -- and it's a big if -- Congress were to say yes.

Jeff Tyler: Infrastructure projects have some down sides. For one thing, they’re generally really expensive. And, says economist Paul Bingham with CDM Smith.

Paul Bingham: It just takes an enormous amount of time. Estimates in the industry for more than a decade from initial design to actually getting final permitting and approval from all levels of government.

At the same time, not all infrastructure projects are created equal.

John Horsley: Transportation has proven it’s a good way to get jobs moving in the economy, fast.

John Horsley is executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He says funding for roads can be put to use within six months.

Horsley: States, cities and counties can find a way to pick projects that are not held up by environmental reviews or other bureaucratic obstacles. We can get that money out and working in the economy.

The president is proposing to spend around a half-trillion dollars on road projects. Horsley says it would take twice that much to fix all our infrastructure problems.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.


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