- Highways and Bridges: Urban highway congestion cost the economy more than $120 billion in 2011, and nearly one in four bridges in the national highway system is structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
- Waterways and Ports: Lock delays, port congestion and lack of facilities for larger ships added $33 billion to the cost of U.S. products in 2010.
- Aviation: The United States is home to just four of the world’s top 50 airports, and aviation congestion and delays cost the economy $24 billion in 2012.
- Transit Rail: Only 25 percent of transit rail station infrastructure is rated “good” or “excellent.”
Increased investment in public infrastructure leads to significant economic benefits:
- Up to $320 billion in economic output would be generated in 2020 if U.S. infrastructure investment were boosted by 1 percent of GDP per year.
- 7 million jobs would be created over the first three years by an $83 billion infrastructure package.
- As much as $3 in economic activity is created by every $1 invested in infrastructure.
The need for modernization and reinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure cannot be overstated. The highways, bridges, railways, airports, transit systems and waterways that once represented the best of modern architecture and engineering are deteriorating, inevitably worn down by age and stretched beyond capacity by the shifting demands of a modern economy and growing population.
Current levels of funding are far below what is needed to properly maintain, improve and expand system capacity to accommodate future demand and avoid the economic costs and inefficiencies associated with system underperformance. Today, public investment in transportation infrastructure accounts for just 1.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — a reduction from peak investment levels of 2.2 percent in the 1960s. The cumulative impact of this underinvestment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, the natural aging process and accelerating demand pressures is a massive gap between projected investment needs and projected investment levels over the next several years, on the order of $1 trillion by 2020.
Investing in transportation infrastructure would create jobs. A 2014 study conducted by University of Maryland economists concluded that an $83 billion infrastructure investment package — the equivalent of approximately 0.6 percent of GDP — would create 1.7 million jobs in the first three years, accounting for both direct and indirect employment effects. Another recent report by the Brookings Institution found that more than 14 million American workers were directly employed in infrastructure jobs in 2012, more than 10 percent of total national employment.
The nation’s leaders can change course and rebuild this vital national asset. It’s time to strengthen our economic foundation by reinvesting in transportation infrastructure.