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(Image courtesy of Congressman Brian Higgins' office/source: Global Infrastructure Hub https://outlook.gihub.org/)
(Image courtesy of Congressman Brian Higgins' office/source: Global Infrastructure Hub https://outlook.gihub.org/)

Higgins: infrastructure report card points to urgent need for substantial federal investment


Wed, Mar 3rd 2021 02:30 pm

New ASCE report gives US Infrastructure a ‘C-‘ grade

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, said release of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure should be an urgent call to action. The report, issued March 3, gives U.S. infrastructure a “C-“ grade overall.

Higgins said, “The pandemic has revealed the fragility of the American economic system. Infrastructure provides the guaranteed return on investment that is necessary for recovery. This goes way beyond concrete and asphalt, infrastructure creates good American jobs that can’t be outsourced and lays a foundation for future economic growth.”

The congressman pointed to Ohio Street in Buffalo as one such example, where an $8.1 million federal investment has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in private sector investment in new residential development and restaurants supporting jobs and changing the economic landscape of the neighborhood.

The ASCE report noted 42% of all bridges in the U.S. are at least 50 years old, and 178 million trips are taken across structurally deficient bridges every day. Similarly, 43% of U.S. public roadways are in poor or mediocre condition. Schools, parks, transit, inland waterways, aviation, storm water and wastewater all ranked in the “D” grade range on the 2021 report.

Higgins recently wrote to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, requesting a meeting to discuss infrastructure, including the administration’s goal to address past infrastructure projects that have divided communities. Higgins pointed to the Skyway, Kensington, Scajaquada and Niagara Scenic Parkway as opportunities for the federal government to right historic transportation wrongs.

His team said the COVID-19 pandemic and recent storms have exposed the needs and vulnerabilities in U.S. infrastructure, including schools, broadband, energy and water infrastructure. Higgins pointed out that, while the U.S. is “failing to invest in infrastructure,” other nations such as China “recognize infrastructure is a powerful investment in its own economy.”

The House Ways and Means Committee, on which Higgins serves, is beginning to work on green energy and infrastructure legislation as a part of President Joe Biden’s vision to build back better. In the previous Congress, Higgins also led introduction of the Nation Building Here at Home Act, supporting a substantial federal investment in infrastructure.

The Public Works Improvement Act of 1984 established a National Council on Public Works Improvement tasked by Congress to deliver an infrastructure report to Congress and the president, marking the beginning stages of a public infrastructure report. The reporting requirement expired under the law in 1988. Ten years later, the ASCE released its first infrastructure report card. The analysis is now released every four years, with the most recent report, prior to the 2021 release, issued in 2017.

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