U.S. Infrastructure Crumbling, Nation Falling Behind Developing Countries

When it comes to maintaining and improving its roads, bridges and other transportation facilities, the United States is falling behind even developing nations and Congress is showing no will to address the crisis, according to a report released this week by the Urban Land Institute. Further:

Despite the nation’s unemployment woes, the vast job-creation potential of infrastructure projects is being sidetracked by concerns about government spending appetites and potential cost overruns.

In contrast with its global competition, the report notes, after more than 30 years of conspicuously underfunding infrastructure,

the United States is lurching along a problematic course — potentially losing additional ground.

So far, Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans levee breach have not been a big enough wakeup call; neither was the 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse, according to Infrastructure 2011: A Strategic Priority. Meanwhile, China is moving closer to completing the world’s largest high-speed train network, a 10,000-mile honeycomb linking major cities across an expanse similar in size to the United States. But the high-speed train is only a small part of a

trillion-dollar splurge that is also constructing a nationwide tolled highway system, comparable to U.S. interstates; 1,900 miles of new urban integrated transport systems in the world. If all this domestic infrastructure activity is not enough, China also has ambitions to build high-speed rail lines across Asia and India, ultimately connecting to Europe’s systems.

Even the United Kingdom, with its severe austerity budget, has committed $326 billion over the next five years to continue national infrastructure projects focused on rail, energy production and broadband access.

Meanwhile, U.S. residents are literally left in the dust of crumbling facilities with some areas likely to abandon services in certain districts, the report forsees.

In lightly traveled rural areas, transportation departments may let some blacktopped roads go back to nature.

America’s 15 million unemployed workers need jobs. The nation needs to repair its bridges and road and invest in high-tech solutions for the future. So why is it so hard for lawmakers to connect the two?

Instead, Republicans in Congress are doing just the opposite. The Republican budget proposal pushed by Wis. Rep. Paul Ryan includes cuts to transporation that are “especially irresponsible, given the demonstrated ability of transportation investments to create and sustain millions of good jobs,” says AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Edward Wytkind. Ryan’s budget is a

blueprint to ruin the nation’s already failing transportation system. It is a recipe for massive job loss, reflects a total disregard for the needs of Americans who continue to suffer under high unemployment, and destroys any hope that America will finally address the well-documented deterioration of our transportation system and infrastructure.

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:

Successful job creation is the key to deficit reduction over the medium term. We must commit to the sizeable and sustained level of public investment needed to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and schools and prepare our country for the next generation. From technology to education, investments today will make responsible fiscal balance achievable and — most important — create good jobs for America’s workers and help us win the future.

This post was originally published on the AFL-CIO’s blog.


Related Stories:

Time to Invest in our Green Infrastructure

Now Hiring: Walmart Seeks Spanish-Speaking Labor Buster To Maintain A ‘Union-Free Workplace’

Republicans Sponsor “Right To Work” Act Versus Actually Work At Creating Jobs


Photo from WebsiteRockstars via flickr
Written by Tula Connell, an AFL-CIO blogger


Thomas Liddle
Thomas Liddle7 years ago

Also, Pat, in your little rant, you defeated your own point. "Businesses big or small are in it to make a profit". Therefore, every piece of the puzzle that's handled by a private company is done so at a premium which in turn pushes up overall costs. That's a big source of project overrun. Consultations, primary contracting and the like would actually best be done inhouse, everything but the actual work, because every firm they bring in comes at a premium. Who do you think is gonna pay for that? Taxpayers? No way!
Also, you clearly have little concept of why we're so against subsidizing profitable industries and giving corporate tax breaks out like halloween candy, SO WE CAN SPEND THE MONEY ON SOMETHING USEFUL. And I don't mean government subsidized jobs in the oil industry. Take off the blinders. Your points are almost applicable if you'd apply them in broad spectrum, yet you don't, and even so, they'd remain as innane, as defeatist and truly immature as ever. "Daddy, I can has this?" "No, it's too much money." "Daddy, just go to the bank and get more."
That's not how it works. Reread the bit about the UK and see if you get it yet, despite austerity, spending continues, and for good reason. Plus, PUTTING DISPOSABLE INCOME INTO THE HANDS OF CONSUMERS WILL SAVE THE ECONOMY, NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS. How to do that?


Oh my. Steve Jobs just appeared as an apparition, I have to go.

Thomas Liddle
Thomas Liddle7 years ago

Hey Pat B, I got one question for you, if you don't want the government to spend US money, taxpayer money, on upgrading infrastructure, who do you figure is gonna pay for it? Tolls? Sponsorship? "This new connector brought to you by Coca-Cola." Don't be ridiculous, that is WHY we pay taxes. Not to create 'government jobs' dropping bombs on people, (US Department of Defense is largest single employer in the world, followed by China's PLA, McDonald's and Walmart). Next you're gonna tell me we need corporate sponsorship in the schools, not government jobs 'teaching' and moulding our children. Get a grip.

Pat B.
Pm B7 years ago

I cannot take poll initiated above because the question is unclear and therefore the results will be skewed. Is our infrastructure in serious need of repair? ABSOLUTELY! But does the poll question mean: Do I want the US government to "create" jobs with taxpayor money? ABSOLUTELY NOT! This will only put our country further in debt and/or "create" an additional tax burden on an already over-taxed working population. Or does the question mean: Would I like to see US businesses compete fairly to win contracts to repair the infrastructure and hire US citizens to do the work? MOST CERTAINLY! And folks, whether you like it or not, businesses big or small are in it to make a profit! Would you start a business so you could lose money? Would you buy a piece of rental property and rent it for less than you have invested in it? Would you "create" jobs using your own money while your family goes hungry and your bills go unpaid? Well maybe you would, but trust me - it won't be fun, it won't help your looks, and it won't get you into Heaven. What will happen if you take out the profit motive is: 1)fewer people will be interested in starting new businesses; 2) fewer businessss will invest in growth or even maintain what they have; 3) there will be a continued decline in the free-enterprise job market; 4) it will swell the numbers of the "give me", non-working population; and 5) the number of government (as in tax) supported jobs will rise increasing taxes on a already over burdened society.

Linda E.
Linda E7 years ago

Thanks for the great article. Of course the US should invest in its infrastructure and in Americans by employing people to rebuild the country. Don't say the money isn't there, it is simply prioritized to go to the military budget. Our legislators would rather spend money to kill people for the financial benefit of Big Business than to put Americans to work.

Ira Herson
Ira Herson7 years ago

If the USA does not invest in Health, Education and infrastructure it will become a third world nation.

Jobs are being sent off shore as it is financially more attractive to manufacturers. If the government would give appropriate tax incentives to SME American companies that will employ more staff then we would see this change.

Building roads and rail systems as well as housing for the homeless can only inject needed capital in the country and create a stronger middle class. It is the strength of the middle class that determines the difference between a 1st world and a 3rd world country.

Investing in education will assure that the future generation will be able to compete with countries that do invest in education. A country as small and poor as Mauritius provides universal health care and free university. If they can do it what is wrong with the USA?

It is always the call of the wealthy that decries the need for spending money on public works. The fear tactics and denigration of migrant workers that will steal the jobs anyway is a common trick and should be ignored. Attacking aid to the starving and downtrodden people around the world does no credit to the USA and only furthers unrest that will eventually lead to conflicts that will cost more.

It took 8 years for the Bush government to turn the economy from surplus to the biggest deficit in history and the Obama government has had only had 2 years to try and fix it. Have the American people no memory even sor

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi7 years ago

We are to busy fighting war killing Muslims what the hell you are talking about infrastructure crumbling in war people have to give scarfices stand by the Govt don't you dare raise the voice and complain

Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer7 years ago

Unless something is done about out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs directly, infra-structure spending and tax breaks will do very little to keep up with the job losses.

Tax breaks create jobs in other countries and although there is a benefit of having to address infrastructure anyway, the benefit, of simply creating jobs, is deminimus.

The jobs will be filled by Central Americans, or others, on H1b visas and not by U.S. citizens.

Out-sourcing and off-shoring can be addressed directly. The consequence to business is not as great as doing nothing.

International corporations are putting U.S. based businesses out of businss and forcing them to leave the country in order to compete.

When the U.S. market collapses as a result,and the countries that now have our jobs have not generated their own marketplace, the collapse will be world wide.

John R.
John R.7 years ago

Miss Rose Lynne; I agree very strongly with your comments, because I think that it is way past time, that we start worrying about the safety of people in this country, by rebuilding our highways and bridges, before we start spending money and helping other countries with their problems, and spending money that we do not have.

Lynda H.
Lynda Harrison7 years ago

Could it be that successive governments have been more interested in developing the infrastructure of "developing countries" rather than making it better for their own citizens? Is it going to take the White House falling into a chasm for these idiots to wake up to the fact that they have a responsibility to put their own people FIRST?????

Past Member 7 years ago

Well, let's see: during the Great Depression, FDR put America to work by building our now-crumbling infrastructure - roads and bridges, water and sewer works, reclamation projects - and many other critical and useful endeavors. He also nationalized failing banks and created the FDIC, amongst many other actions in the public's interest (while his cousin, TR, broke-up several large trusts - and created the National Park system). Fast-forward about seventy years to the "change we can believe in." I'll just stop there.