American Infrastructure: Can We Fix It


David O’Brien, Editor

Business Insider
A car driving over cracked pavement, one of many examples of infrastructure that needs repairs.

America has had a long history of transportation and public works projects implemented by the government in an attempt to take the United States from good to great. One of the earliest major partisan political policies was Henry Clay’s American System, which supported internal improvements and federally-funded roads and canals to help the agricultural market. Stephen Douglas and Lincoln orchestrated the creation of the transcontinental railroad, one of the world’s most remarkable engineering achievements in its time. Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt responded to the Great Depression by funding infrastructural improvements to provide jobs to those who lost them in the major economic downturn. In the 1950s Dwight Eisenhower passed the Interstate Highway Act, which created over 41,000 miles of highways and made transportation across the United States easier than ever. Despite all of these great achievements for modern infrastructure throughout American history, throughout recent years, things have not been going as well. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published its quadrennial grade for the infrastructure of the U.S. The United States scored the same as it had in 2013, a D+. According to the ASCE, the United States would need to spend about $4.5 trillion over the course of the next five years to improve the state of American roads, bridges, dams, airports, schools etc. The report has sixteen different categories that discuss the grading for each individual aspect of infrastructure and shows the reasoning why it has such a poor grade, ranging from just under 100-year-old pipe systems that desperately need repairs to the poor conditions of urban and rural roads throughout the country. 

Unlike most issues circulating in Washington, this is not a partisan issue. President Trump has stated numerous times in his 2020 State of the Union address that he wants to increase federal spending on infrastructure. He even claimed to be in support of creating a two-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan as a part of phase four of the stimulus package. In 2019, the house passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would follow the instructions and recommendations of the engineers who warned us of the dangers of the current state of infrastructure. However, both of these plans were shot down in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Minority Leader McCarthy both said they would like to wait and see the state of things as the pandemic continued before they passed Trump’s initiative. McConnell also publicly stated that the House’s infrastructure bill would never see the light of day as he stated it was a “pure fantasy” that would die in the Senate. Trump also claimed he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk since it contained too many clean energy initiatives. 

President-elect Biden has claimed that a large part of his economic revival plan for the country will focus around an infrastructure plan based on FDR’s works progress administration, sending numerous construction workers, engineers and tradesmen back to work. The focal point of his infrastructure initiative is the idea of bringing clean energy into public works and having the government entirely run on clean energy by 2050. His reasoning behind pushing such a plan is not only bringing America infrastructure back to the top of the world’s number national rankings, which it is currently 13th, it is also to reduce unemployment and poverty. His plan is estimated to cost $2 trillion. It is incredibly likely that he will face the same issues as the House and President Trump with this sweeping proposal as McConnell will likely block this proposal from ever being voted on. However, Biden does hope to reach bipartisan agreement on the bill through its initiative to provide jobs to those who are now unemployed because of the Coronavirus.

One thought on “American Infrastructure: Can We Fix It

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s