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Civil Engineers: Families Will Suffer if Infrastructure Crumbles

July 27, 2011

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The nation's deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 870,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country's Gross Domestic Product by $3.1 trillion by 2020, according to a new report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers.


The report, conducted by the Economic Development Research Group of Boston, showed that in 2010, deficiencies in America's roads, bridges, and transit systems cost American households and businesses more than $129 billion, including approximately $97 billion in vehicle operating costs, $32 billion in delays in travel time, $1.2 billion in safety costs, and $590 million in environmental costs.


If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, those costs are expected to grow exponentially. Within 10 years, U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion.

"Clearly, failing to invest in our roads, bridges and transit systems has a dramatic negative impact on America's economy," said Kathy J. Caldwell, president of ASCE. "This report is a wake-up call for policymakers because it shows that investing in infrastructure contributes to creating jobs, while failing to do so hurts main street America."

A lack of investment in transportation infrastructure would inflict a double whammy on American families who would see their household incomes fall by $60 a month by 2020, while having to spend $30 per month more for goods. The total cost to families would exact about $10,600 per family between now and 2020, equal to $1,060 per year on household budgets.

Modest investment needed

The report estimates that in order to bring the nation's surface transportation infrastructure up to tolerable levels, policymakers would need to invest approximately $1.7 trillion between now and 2020 in the nation's highways and transit systems. The U.S. is currently on track to spend a portion of that, $877 billion, during the same timeframe.

The infrastructure funding gap equals $846 billion over 9 years or $94 billion per year.
According to the report, small investments in infrastructure, equal to about 60 percent of what Americans spend on fast food each year, would:

* Protect 1.1 million jobs;
* Save Americans 180 million hours in travel time each year;
* Deliver an average of $1,060 to each family;
* Protect $10,000 in GDP for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

The report, the first of four scheduled by ASCE, examined the country's surface transportation infrastructure. Future reports will examine the state of the nation's infrastructure as it relates to water and wastewater delivery and treatment, energy transmission, and airports and marine ports.






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