United for Infrastructure 2021
A Bipartisan Effort to Advocate for Infrastructure Investment
From May 10 – 14, 2021, infrastructure advocates will call for bipartisan leadership to make better policies and investments.
In this, the ninth year of United for Infrastructure, diverse stakeholders are yet again being brought together to seek infrastructure reform by calling the nation’s leaders to bold action. The message of United for Infrastructure is that leaders need to deliver on policies and investments that jumpstart the economy and keep American families and workers safe whether on the road, flying in a plane or drinking water from the tap. The week-long event advocates for infrastructure policy and federal investment to support public health and safety and bring about resilient and equitable communities.
ASCE Texas Section encourages all members to join the national effort to raise awareness about the need for investment in the nation’s infrastructure. Hundreds of national and local groups will host events and raise awareness about the need to invest in transportation, water, communications and energy infrastructure, all around the theme “Lead With Infrastructure.”
The country has several intersecting challenges it needs to address simultaneously: ending the COVID pandemic, rebuilding the American economy, mitigating and adapting to the climate change, and making our communities better for everyone. Infrastructure is key to addressing each of those challenges.
Infrastructure can jumpstart the economy and give people jobs. It can lift up the quality of life in communities that have been underserved. It can make us more resilient to climate change. The only way we tackle the biggest issues of our time is through strategic investment in and prioritization of infrastructure.
When we look back at the past year, the essential nature of transit service, clean water so people can wash their hands, high-speed internet so kids can learn at home and people can work from home – everything comes back to infrastructure. Our economy, public health and safety, and quality of life all depend on the interwoven systems of transit, communications, water, and energy.
The American Society of Civil Engineers Global recently released the national Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, and gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of C-. Within that it ranked 17 categories, from roads and bridges to transit and wastewater systems, and of those categories 11 were in the Ds. These grades are unacceptable and a warning flag that we cannot succeed as a nation if we fail to address these fundamental necessities.
Here in Texas, the 2021 Texas Infrastructure Report Card gave 12 categories of infrastructure an overall grade of a ‘C,’ meaning the state’s infrastructure is in mediocre condition. This is an improvement from the ‘C-‘ the state received in its 2017 report.
As the 9th largest economy in the word, Texas infrastructure is crucial to the economy. Energy infrastructure systems have received significant attention, with Texas emerging as a leader in renewable energy production, meeting demands as the population continues to grow. Conversely, the wastewater and levee networks need additional support as the population grows and to withstand increased severe weather events. Civil engineers graded aviation (B-), bridges (B-), dams (D+), drinking water (C-), energy (B+), flood risk mitigation (C-), levees (D), public parks & recreation (C-), highways & roads (D+), solid waste (B), transit (B-) and wastewater (D). [Read the full 2021 Texas Infrastructure Report Card here.]
American voters have told us for years that they support fixing the infrastructure we have, making it safer and more resilient, and building a new generation of transportation, water, internet, and other systems. Investing in infrastructure can play a crucial role in the economic recovery, creating both short-term and long-term jobs. When we invest in infrastructure, we invest in ourselves. That’s why nearly 80% of local funding measures pass at the ballot box, and nearly 90% of voters believe it is extremely important that Congress and the administration act to modernize our public infrastructure.
But as consistent as the public has been about this, we have had a failure in federal leadership for far too long. It is time for that to change.
The scale of our infrastructure needs demands bold action, a national vision, thoughtful policy, and significant funding from the federal government. We simply cannot take on the magnitude of our critical infrastructure projects through local funding or measures alone. We cannot toll our way to paying for every bridge and road that needs to be repaired. We cannot raise water rates enough to pay for the capital investment deficit that water systems have. If we increased the passenger fees at every airport so the airports could modernize adequately, people would stop flying. It would make the day-to-day expenses for a regular family untenable.
Largely, we know not just the public but business leaders, labor leaders, and policy advocates all understand this. That is why there is a week, this week, called United for Infrastructure, that connects hundreds of groups across the country to simultaneously raise awareness about infrastructure needs.
We know the benefits of investing in infrastructure. Every $1 invested in infrastructure generates $3.70 in economic growth. Closing our investment gap by repairing and modernizing our roads, bridges, drinking water systems, ports and more will protect 3.1 million jobs in 2039, with outsized benefits for the manufacturing and healthcare sectors.
The cost of inaction is too high. Forty-three percent of our public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. The average American household is spending $9 per day because of underperforming infrastructure, and the average driver spends $533 per year on avoidable car repairs because of poor roads. A failed drinking water system is a public health crisis. Families and businesses without reliable internet are getting left behind. This country cannot wait any longer for a massive reprioritization into the things we need to thrive. The time for leadership and the time for investment in infrastructure is now.
United for Infrastructure is a week-long event that advocates for better infrastructure policy and greater investment from all levels of government. Quality, affordable infrastructure – from clean water and broadband internet to safe transportation and strong supply chains – has never been more important.