Letter to the Editor

The state of America’s roads and bridges

Charles Lane’s Nov. 1 op-ed column on U.S. infrastructure [“Bridge to hyperbole”] combined half-baked data sets with local anecdotes to argue for ranking American infrastructure against like-sized nations, not emerging nations or “vast dictatorships.”

The ultimate assertion was that our infrastructure needs to be just good enough. We disagree.

We live and compete in a global economy, driven not by like-sized nations but by the push and pull of market forces that every nation has the power to affect. Our infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, and it contributes to our competitiveness internationally. Neglecting it has ripple effects. A recent American Society of Civil Engineers economic report found that failing to close the current infrastructure funding gap will raise the cost of doing business, cause exports to fall and kill jobs in high-value sectors.

Investing is not synonymous with haphazard spending. We advocate for strategic investments in projects that will fix our most pressing problems and have the potential of long-term, exponential job creation, along with other benefits such as reduced congestion, cleaner water, and safer roads and bridges. Americans deserve them, and our global competitiveness requires them.

Andrew W. Herrmann, Reston

The writer is president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Thank you to Charles Lane for helping to put the scaremongering over America’s infrastructure in perspective.

Yes, the nation has some infrastructure problems. But so do other places, and their problems are usually worse.

No matter the topic, our government leaders seem to use fear and alarmism to try to get us to part with our money and cede more power to them. Mr. Lane struck a small blow against this destructive trend.

Steve Stanek, McHenry, Ill.

The writer is managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a publication of the Chicago-based Heartland Institute.

A drive up and down the East and West coasts, as Charles Lane took, hardly provides a systemic view of the situation. Here are the facts:

According to the Federal Highway Administration, about one-quarter of the nation’s 602,000 bridges are in need of repair, and nearly 165,000 miles of roads are in poor or mediocre condition and need repaving or even more substantive repairs. 

The Texas Transportation Institute’s latest report showed traffic congestion is costing the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually — hardly a sign of a properly functioning transportation network. 

And an analysis of U.S. Transportation Department data shows an annual $30 billion shortfall at the federal level alone just to maintain current highway conditions. Throw in the state and local government shares, and that figure balloons even more.   

Dave Bauer, Washington

The writer is a senior vice president at the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

 
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