Better Roads Staff
Three for the Road
The Bloomberg-Rendell-Schwarzenegger funding and fixing plan
By John Latta
This month, there may be a real reauthorization debate. Finally. Maybe. Whether it results in anything solid is something of a long shot.
Somewhere in almost all of the various plans presented as saviors of America’s infrastructure (and there is a sizeable number), there are ideas that must eventually be adopted. Too many good, experienced minds have analyzed all possible avenues for us not to have solutions available to us.
Now, Building America’s Future (BAF) has tabled new plans to help us fix our transportation infrastructure and move it out of its archaic straitjacket.
Building America’s Future was founded and is headlined by Pennsylvania Gov. and transportation policy maverick Ed Rendell, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It claims a diverse bipartisan membership of state and local elected officials from across the country. Its quirky independence might have caused it to lose some impact, but its new report entitled Falling Apart and Falling Behind is gaining support.
One simple statement from the BAF report is, prima facie, startling: “We have let more than half a century go by without devising a strategic plan on a national scale to update our freight and passenger transport system.” As the size of federal investment in transportation infrastructure (as a share of GDP) has steadily fallen, and as federal funds are “dispersed to projects without imposing accountability and performance measures,” our transportation infrastructure is stuck back in the past century. Our passenger transportation system is saddled with congestion woes and by being largely run on gasoline is “environmentally, politically and economically unstable. We have the world’s worst air traffic congestion, in part because we are still using the radar-based air traffic system developed in the 1950s,” so says the BAF report. And in this, they really echo virtually every other major report on the topic in the past five years.
BAF’s key recommendations are not new, but they are centrally important to our future:
One: Develop a national infrastructure strategy for the next decade that makes choices based on economics, not politics.
Essentially, this is a 10-year strategic plan for creating investment in America’s infrastructure. The plan must “spur” an investment of $200 billion a year and, if it does, it will create nearly five million jobs for the next decade, says the BAF research. “This investment would create nearly half of the 12.5 million jobs that we need to revive the American economy and keep them in place for the next decade.”
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