On August 5, 2013, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed that argued against the merits of public investment in infrastructure. The following is a response from ASCE President Greg DiLoreto:
Our nation’s infrastructure depends on public and private investment to thrive
Larry Schweikart and Burton Folsom’s editorial (Obama’s False History of Public Investment, Aug. 6, 2013, page A13) misses a critical point. While entrepreneurs can often drive infrastructure investment, we need both the private and public sectors to play key roles in building and maintaining America’s infrastructure.
Our national highway system comprises just 4 percent of all U.S. roads, yet it revolutionized and created entire industries. Today, 40 percent of all highway traffic occurs on this system, 75 percent of heavy truck traffic and 90 percent of tourist traffic. Imagine Amazon or Coca-Cola unable to move goods easily across states. While much of this massive undertaking was planned and funded by the public sector, many private sector firms were hired to execute the work. This critical road system created jobs in the short-term and spurred long-term economic growth.
Economic growth necessitates a well-functioning, well-connected infrastructure network. ASCE’s recent economic studies found that if the nation continues to invest at the same meager levels in infrastructure, we will see a drop of $3.1 trillion in GDP by 2020 due to the ripple effect deficient infrastructure has on our nation’s economy.
Past generations recognized that infrastructure was essential to interstate commerce and a healthy economy. After World War II, Americans built the nation we know today by investing in their communities. Now that bill is coming due. We must modernize and maintain the system we have to keep America at the forefront in order to continue building a strong economic recovery.
Gregory DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S, D.WRE
President, American Society of Civil Engineers