During the COVID-19 press conference on April 5, President Trump addressed a question on the need and timing of infrastructure improvements for the U.S. President Trump supports a massive investment in much-needed improvements to U.S. roads, rail, bridges, levees, drinking water, seaports, airports, etc. that will also help spur the economy post-COVID-19 pandemic.
President Trump commented, “…they don’t do construction techniques that work and that are better! I see a highway….that is good but it has a bad top. And, it has a big concrete base underneath. They come in and they rip the hell out of it! They take out the base, they take out everything. Now they pour a new base and it isn’t as good, it isn’t as deep, it isn’t as thick. The concrete base, the footing was fantastic. It takes forever! And, instead of scraping out the asphalt (top) and putting new asphalt down, then they open the highway and it starts to crack….because it hasn’t been set. And, they spend 10-15-20 times more money than they have too….They take the most expensive solution and the bottom line is the job itself is far worse!”
Last year the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing entitled, “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure Cannot Wait.” Sam Graves (R-MO) (@RepSamGraves) Ranking Member, said “America will never have the infrastructure system it needs and deserves if we don’t do a better job of incorporating technology. Compared to other countries, our infrastructure is falling behind, and in some cases falling apart. Technology is rapidly developing, but our infrastructure doesn’t always reflect those advancements. That needs to change.”
This is a wide-ranging bipartisan policy opinion. In the final article of our earlier 5-part blog series, DRINKING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE HAMSTRUNG WITH ANTIQUATED PROCUREMENT PRACTICES AND REGULATIONS THAT INHIBIT USE OF MATERIALS & INCREASE WATER RATEPAYERS COSTS, we highlighted, “There are members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle that support adding provisions in law that require local governments to have open and fair competition for materials used by water systems. Many states sole source their materials based on old, biased and outdated information. Members of Congress are continuing to lead congressional efforts to require open competition for materials when federal funds are used.
Local policymakers across the nation are also strongly encouraging best practices and adoption of new technologies. The U.S. Conference of Mayors (@USMayors) recently began directing a majority of its resources over the next two years to three strategic initiatives: Infrastructure, Innovation and Inclusion. Bryan Barnett, Mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan and Second Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors explains, “We are committing the resources of the Conference to a consistent, bipartisan direction based on a simple notion that together everyone achieves more. The two-year plan focuses on these three priorities to help cities thrive across the country.”
What is clear is the U.S. economy will need assistance re-starting post-COVID-19 pandemic. A timely infrastructure package with sufficient funding targeted to projects that adapt to new techniques & technologies will help in achieving this.