Obama budget increases spending on infrastructure

Jeff Tyler Feb 13, 2012

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.

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