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ASCE Releases New Study Detailing the Economic Consequences of Failing to Invest in America’s Infrastructure

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Media Contact(s):
Clark Barrineau, 202-789-7853, cbarrineau@asce.org

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reston, VA – Improving the condition of our nation’s aging roads, bridges, power lines, sewer systems, ports and waterways is critical to protecting 3.5 million jobs according to the new American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report, Failure to Act: The Impact of Current Infrastructure Investment on America’s Economic Future. Between now and 2020, investment needs across key infrastructure sectors total $2.75 trillion, while planned expenditures are about $1.66 trillion, leaving a total investment gap of $1.1 trillion.

“Infrastructure is the lifeblood of our economy and provides the foundation for assuring a high quality of life for all Americans,” said Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S, D.WRE, president of ASCE. “Our culminating Failure to Act report shows that deteriorating infrastructure has a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, yet we have a real opportunity to make crucial investments in America’s infrastructure that will pay off in huge economic dividends.”

ASCE finds that with an additional investment of $157 billion a year between now and 2020, the U.S. can eliminate this drag on economic growth and protect:

  • $3.1 trillion in GDP, more than the 2011 GDP of France 
  • $1.1 trillion in U.S. trade value, equivalent to Mexico’s GDP 
  • 3.5 million jobs, more than the jobs created in the U.S. over the previous 22 months  
  • $2.4 trillion in consumer spending, comparable to Brazil’s GDP 
  • $3,100 in annual household income

“The deterioration of the nation’s infrastructure undermines the economy, jeopardizes our safety, threatens our quality of life and harms the environment,” said Janet F. Kavinoky, Executive Director of Transportation & Infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Public and private investment and new, innovative strategies are needed to repair, rebuild and revitalize the nation’s transportation systems -- from roads and bridges to locks to air traffic control -- to connect workers with employers, employers with suppliers and businesses with their customers.”

This culminating report, part of a first-of-its-kind series, analyzes the interactive effect between investment gaps in the infrastructure sectors addressed in each of the preceding four Failure to Act studies, and presents an overall picture of the economic opportunity associated with infrastructure investment and the cost of failing to fill the investment gap. 

The Failure to Act studies compare current and projected needs for infrastructure investment against the current funding trends in surface transportation (highways, bridges, rail, transit); water and wastewater; electricity; and airport and waterborne transportation.

“We need to continue to invest in our country’s inland waterways in order to have a state-of-the-art system that can compete on the world’s stage,” said Rick Calhoun, President of Cargo Carriers. “Without sustained investment, we run a greater risk of having a failure in our inland waterways system that would disrupt water navigation nationwide.”

Notably, the final Failure to Act report serves as a preface to The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which will be released in March. Released every four years, ASCE’s Report Card grades the current state of national infrastructure categories on a scale of A through F. The Failure to Act report examined nine of the 16 infrastructure systems that will be addressed in the 2013 Report Card. ASCE’s 2009 Report Card gave the nation’s infrastructure a grade of “D” and estimated the five year infrastructure investment need of the U.S. to be $2.2 trillion.

“The importance of a robust energy delivery infrastructure to our economy cannot be overstated. We take electric transmission for granted but, if the lights aren’t working, nobody is working,” said Jim Hoecker, Counsel and Advisor to the transmission group WIRES. “The transmission grid forms the critical link between generation infrastructure and distribution of electricity to businesses and households. Like our interstate highway system, the transmission system is a long-term national asset. The investment gap ASCE identifies will lead to unreliable service, higher electricity rates, and an inability to reach new domestic energy resources. Underinvestment in the grid also represents a missed opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of good jobs.”

The full Failure to Act report, including infographics depicting data trends, can be found at www.asce.org/failuretoact. The report’s projections assume needs and available funding based on current trends, and do not adjust for possible costs associated with climate change, changes in regulations, or other factors.

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