“Much of America is held together by Scotch tape, bailing wire and prayers,” said Donald F. Kettl, director of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
Fixing these problems and others threatening the nation’s critical infrastructure would cost $1.6 trillion — more than half of the annual federal budget, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates. And that doesn’t include what it will cost for new capacity to serve a growing population.
Recognizing the importance of structures so integral to U.S. commerce and Americans’ well-being and safety, local, state and federal governments already are budgeting nearly two-thirds of the $1.6 trillion needed for infrastructure work. The problem is they raid many of those funds for other purposes, ASCE says.
Infrastructure is the four-syllable jawbreaker that governments use to describe the concrete, stone, steel, wires and wood that Americans rely on every day but barely notice until something goes awry. Broadly speaking, it includes airports, the electrical energy grid, hazardous and solidwaste storage sites, navigable inland waterways, public parks, schools and even the security to protect all of those structures.
This article was excerpted from “State of the States 2008,” Stateline.org’s annual report