Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Underfunded Infrastructure

Estimates for Biden's new relief plan run from $2 trillion to $4 trillion, averaging around $3 trillion. Some of that is going toward infrastructure, some to other things; at least most of the proposed projects look more practical than average for politics. So far, so good. But there are two problems: 1) the infrastructure share seems aimed at building rather than repairing, and 2) it's nowhere near enough to cover just the maintenance debt, let alone build anything new. In fact, building more sprawl just digs the debt deeper.

"In America, we have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the cost at $5 trillion — but that's just for major infrastructure, not the minor streets, curbs, walks, and pipes that serve our homes."

Now, if we wanted to target a high-need part of infrastructure, we could accomplish a lot with a large sum concentrated on one aspect:

"A recent estimate for the nation’s backlog of bridge repair needs is $125 billion."

To discourage a recurrence of this can-kicking problem in the future, simply require that any state, town, etc. receiving funds for infrastructure has to document their maintenance liability as part of their budgeting. At least that would make the debt more transparent.

Sadly, that doesn't look like part of the plan.
Tags: economics, news, politics

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