With the release of New Jersey’s state infrastructure report card, we are reminded how our nation’s overall infrastructure needs impact the everyday lives of citizens and state-specific needs. The state’s Transportation Trust Fund is heading toward bankruptcy by July 1 unless state legislators act. New Jersey residents can write their elected officials here and ask them to #FixNJTrustFund.
When it comes to localities, it can be difficult to prioritize which infrastructure needs the most urgent repairs given limited funding and deferred maintenance backlogs. In Santa Monica, Calif., the city has made an effort to get a jump on things by investing resources in for infrastructure that doesn’t quite need an emergency fix in order to save money and headache down the road. “And the better you do at investing in your infrastructure, the more resources you have to continue investing in your infrastructure. And the opposite is just as true: The more you skimp on your infrastructure, the fewer resources you have to invest in your deferred maintenance,” Rick Cole, Santa Monica’s city manager.
A less-commonly reported on example of where this underinvestment is true is in our school facilities. An op-ed in Politico recently exposed how many school facilities are outdated and need repairs, also evident in the Report Card’s “D” grade for school facilities. The US Green Building Council recently reported that over $45 billion in additional funding is needed annually to upgrade and maintain our schools to ensure health and safety. Like all infrastructure, school facilities that don’t receive regular maintenance acquire much costlier investment needs down the line.
Fortunately the poor condition of our nation’s infrastructure has reached the ears of our top presidential candidates as both Clinton and Trump have agreed to make aging infrastructure a priority in their first 100 days in office. A column in The Hill elaborated on the importance of infrastructure in the upcoming election, featuring No Labels’ Policy Playbook for America’s Next President, supporting three infrastructure ideas that received 63-75 percent public support depending on the policy suggestion.
In order to improve our infrastructure it is important that local, state and federal governments work together to find long-term, sustainable funding solutions that enable us to improve our nation’s infrastructure.