Last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s infrastructure a whopping grade of D+. That was actually a step up. It was a D in 2009, says Casey Dinges, senior managing director of public affairs at ASCE.
We have a rickety power grid, falling bridges and water mains that date to the 19th century.
“Nationally, there’s a water main break every two minutes,” Dinges says.
Groups as diverse as the right-leaning US Chamber of Commerce and the labor union AFL-CIO are spending a few days in Washington this week figuring out how to get more money and attention for our nation’s roads, and bridges and everything else that makes the economy run.
They’re calling it Infrastructure Week, and organizers say they want to highlight how important infrastructure is to the economy.
“Currently, the United States is investing less than 2 percent of its GDP on infrastructure,” says Robyn Boerstling, director of transportation and infrastructure policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.
And, there’s a more pressing issue. The nation’s gas tax-funded Highway Trust Fund is running low on cash. That means the government could soon delay paying for highway repairs.
The gas tax hasn’t changed in more than two decades, but Congress doesn’t want to touch it during an election year.
“If not the gas tax, then what are we going to do to pay for it?” says Janet Kavinoky, Executive Director, Transportation & Infrastructure, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
One measure of Infrastructure Week’s success is if someone can answer that question.