Just about any driver who has hit a pothole or sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic knows that our nation’s roads, bridges and highways are in bad shape. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives our nation’s roads a D+ grade. There are 10,000 bridges in the U.S. that are so old that they qualify for Medicare and, yet, are still bearing thousands of tons of freight and people every day.
To make matters worse, Congress just adopted a budget resolution that calls for spending 22 percent less on transportation funding. Cutting federal support from surface transportation projects would have a devastating impact on road conditions, jobs and the economy at a time when our economy needs infrastructure improvements the most. Fortunately, the measure is a non-binding budget resolution. It’s an opening bid when it comes to federal spending and our senators and representatives are not bound by it.
Current funding levels are not keeping pace with the costs to just maintain our roads and bridges. A further $12 billion cut from current spending would trigger further degradation of a system that is already in crisis. It is becoming increasingly harder to move goods and services around this country with relative ease, and that will most certainly harm our economy.
What Americans pay in federal gas taxes every year is small compared to the thousands of miles of roads, highways and bridges that are accessible to them. The average driver pays $96 per year to access more than 47,714 miles of interstate highway. This is equivalent to what one would pay for a hamburger and soda every month from the local fast food joint.
May 11-15, 2015, was National Infrastructure Week. Its purpose is to highlight how investing in infrastructure builds long-term and valuable national assets; creates thousands of well-paying American jobs; improves safety for our citizens; results in cleaner air from reduced congestion; and allows the freedom of mobility that is an essential American value.
It is imperative that Congress meet the critical funding needs to support this national priority that is a cornerstone of America’s economic growth and prosperity. America can do better. We must do better.
Michael W. Johnson
President and CEO
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association