Revitalized Foundation for Greatness

The State of the Union address called for greatness; that must include a plan for infrastructure

By Julia Edinger

We are only a few months into the new year, but the road to revitalized infrastructure seems paved with potholes and legislative obstacles. Still, there are many exciting advancements that can be expected in the near future, achieved through bipartisan compromise.

It is expected that upcoming infrastructure projects will be placing an added emphasis on new technology integration. It is also likely that, within the coming months, we will see multiple plans proposed to help the nation ensure its sustainability in alignment with international climate goals and standards.

During the State of the Union (SOTU) address, the president called for both parties to unite to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.

A $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan was proposed in February 2018, and although it was delayed, it is likely that a divided congress will try to push forward a similar plan – primarily including transportation infrastructure revitalization – this year.

However, the overarching theme of the SOTU address was the message of greatness. America should be striving for greatness: striving not just to improve infrastructure, but to be a leader in infrastructure and clean energy.

Congressman and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Peter DeFazio, shared his concern over the depleting Highway Trust Fund.

“Any serious infrastructure proposal must provide sustainable, long-term federal funding so we can make these necessary investments, create millions of living-wage American jobs, increase economic growth, and decrease congestion and emissions,” said DeFazio.

However, while funding is absolutely crucial, the recent government shutdown and the declaration of a national emergency over funding for a wall have left many officials questioning the prioritization of these needs over long overdue infrastructure projects.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, stated that declaring a national emergency over a wall would hurt the readiness of military troops, delay high-priority military construction, and endanger communities. Kaptur emphasized, “We cannot allow the President to steal funds from the Army Corps of Engineers intended for urgently-needed civil works projects.”

Congress has other plans for infrastructure, taking strides to put forth a comprehensive bill to combat climate change. Senator Edward J. Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez introduced a Green New Deal resolution in February, which would create millions of jobs, address climate change, and stimulate the economy.

The plan is likely to be adjusted and improved as it moves through the legislative process, but senators are already voicing their support. Republicans are likely to support a plan like this based on job growth in the renewable energy sector and the stimulation to the economy, so there are opportunities for bipartisan support moving forward.

While there has already been much divide on this resolution, it is critical to find the unity that was called for in the SOTU address. If Congress can come together on a complex plan like this, there will be massive improvements to the nation’s aging infrastructure, economic productivity, and ultimately, the transition to a cleaner, more secure energy system.

Congress members have not yet come to an agreement on this particular issue. However, there is still immense support for an infrastructure plan from both sides of the aisle.

Society is always moving forward at a rapid pace, and there are many new technologies becoming available that are likely to transform the infrastructure industry. Between drones and augmented reality providing increased photography and visibility opportunities, the emergence of autonomous vehicles, and the endless possibilities that 3D printing enables, one can only speculate what the infrastructure industry will look like five years from now.

In the next year, there will likely be many more advancements in technology and legislation that will help move this nation to become more sustainable and more efficient than it is in its current state. However, we need strong leadership and a carefully designed plan that encompasses more of America’s infrastructure than roads and bridges.

Through revolutionary clean energy plans, an emphasis on job creation in the renewable sector, and a sustainable funding plan for revitalizing the aging foundations of this country, the state of infrastructure could soon be better than it has ever been before.

Julia Edinger is the Assistant Editor for American Infrastructure magazine. She may be reached at julia@penpubinc.com.

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