Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
February 04, 2019
You don’t have to be a civil engineer to know that our nation’s infrastructure is falling apart. All you have to do is leave your house. The evidence is everywhere – and affects everyone.
Consider the facts: The average American loses 42 hours stuck in traffic each year. Meanwhile, our airports and air traffic control system are so old that we lose $9 billion annually in productivity from flight delays. And it’s not just our airports that are outdated. Our interstate highways were developed in the 1960s, and our inland waterways are operating with 100-year-old locks and dams. The economic toll of our crumbling infrastructure is steep and rising still. By 2025, it will have cost businesses $7 trillion.
Because the state of our infrastructure is so obviously inadequate – and so personally and economically costly – everyone agrees we need to do something about it. That’s the good news; the bad news is there’s little sense of urgency among our nation’s leaders.
This year we aim to change that. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host America’s Infrastructure Summit on Tuesday to encourage Congress to move now on bipartisan legislation to revitalize the physical platform of our economy.
The first step in fixing our infrastructure is ending the gridlock in Washington. We need to build bridges across the political divide before we can build bridges around the country. In the aftermath of the longest government shutdown in history, we call on Republicans and Democrats alike to show the American people that they can still work together to get things done. Infrastructure is the perfect place to start. Rallying around a bipartisan package would go a long way toward restoring public trust, business confidence, and political goodwill.
The Chamber believes that a meaningful infrastructure proposal should include four fundamental pillars. First, we need a long-term, sustainable funding source to repair our roads, bridges, and transit systems. The simplest solution is a modest increase to the federal fuel user fee. Second, we must use innovative financing solutions to pay for major critical infrastructure projects, including public and private funding. Third, we must permanently streamline the permitting process so that projects don’t take longer to approve than to build. And fourth, we must make sure we have the skilled workers ready to take on new projects.
Leaders on both sides agree that this needs to be done – now they need to act. This is a prime opportunity to show that they can come together and do what’s good for the country. The Chamber is ready to help.