Addressing an Age-Old Question

Bipartisan agreement on an infrastructure bill is long overdue. Lawmakers and government officials must ask themselves, “if not now, then when?”

As the economy begins to reopen in various parts of the country, policymakers and industry professionals are gearing their attention toward coming up with solutions to help aide a recovery.

In the most recent report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2017, the U.S. is graded with a less-than-stellar D+ in regards to its existing infrastructure. Out of 16 categories, only two (bridges and solid waste) have a “passing” grade of C or better.

As we enter the second half of 2020, policymakers are finally focusing on an ailing weakness of our country. In early July, the House approved a $1.5 trillion green infrastructure bill, which is named the Moving Forward Act. The proposed act invests in the nation’s roads, bridges, transit, rail, schools, housing, broadband, drinking and wastewater systems, postal service, clean energy sector, health care infrastructure and much more.

Not only does the proposal set our nation up for a greener, more sustainable future, it also puts a jolt into the economy, giving our citizens work during a time where jobs are scarce.

“The Moving Forward Act marks a transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs, take bold action on the climate crisis and address disparities in urban, suburban and rural communities across our country,” read a statement in a press release. “The more than $1.5 trillion proposal rebuilds U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation that is smarter, safer, and made to last.”

And although the legislation seems unlikely to get through the Senate, while even receiving disapproval from the White House, policymakers agree that an infrastructure-focused package is something at the top of their list.

As to why it’s taken this long to make infrastructure a priority is a question and conversation for another day. Given the success our nation has had in the past during times of economic downturn, there’s never been a better time for a relief package that spotlights infrastructure.

Take the Great Depression and President Franklin Roosevelt’s initiative for instance—The New Deal. According to an article from the Foundation for Economic Education, the government put 60% of the unemployed to work via public works and conversation projects that gave us trees, modernized rural America, and produced New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel just to name a few. It also built or upgraded 2,500 hospitals, 7,800 bridges, 13,000 parks, and 45,000 schools.

One state that has been putting infrastructure at a forefront is Florida. With the help of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration have used infrastructure as a way to move the state forward—something the rest of the country should also uphold.

“This hard work over the past few months is a testament to FDOT’s commitment to moving Florida forward,” DeSantis said in this issue’s Governor’s Message. “Not only do these projects enhance safety and mobility for motorists, they also reduce travel times and provide improvements in the process of transporting cargo, which are vital in Florida’s recovery and economy.”

As a result, transportation projects have been expedited, which is expected to generate nearly $15 million in benefits to Central Florida and the state. In total, five new flyover ramps were opened, and a portion of the I-4 Westbound general-use lanes was placed into its final configuration.

Another piece of the Moving Forward Act also includes the topic of our water infrastructure. Water is one of the nation’s most precious resources and is undoubtedly one that has been able to help citizens keep their hygiene on point.

In this issue’s AI Interview, U.S. Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox emphasized the importance of water and the role it’s played during the pandemic.

“Water is a key component of the healthcare industry, and hygiene practices like hand washing are critical personal tools in staying safe,” Fox said. “Without water, we are nothing, so we need to lift it up so it gets the attention it deserves!”

While policymakers struggle to find bipartisan, middle ground, the Moving Forward Act is a major step in the right direction. Though it’s unlikely it gets through the Senate, it poses the question:if not now, when can we move America forward? The coronavirus is likely here to stay for the foreseeable future, and investing in our infrastructure will help prepare us for any other disasters that may come our way in the future, whether it’s economically or in regards to public safety.

Brian Alvarado is the Editor for American Infrastructure Magazine. He may be reached at brian@builder.media.

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