Infrastructure in the News:DC Bridge Latest Victim of Underinvestment


This week marks the 80th birthday of the Hoover Dam, which is a prominent example of an invaluable infrastructure landmark that has stood the test of time. The Hoover Dam reminds us of the benefits of investing in quality infrastructure.

Unfortunately, another iconic piece of infrastructure was also in the news this week because it hasn’t been getting the investment it needs. The Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., needs to be reconstructed at a cost of $250 million or it will be closed by 2021. Currently, the park service does not have the money needed to make the improvements. “The bridge is a really good example of what happens when you defer maintenance,” park service director Jonathan Jarvis told The Associated Press. “If the park service had had the funding over the lifespan this past 80 years, we probably could have extended the life of the bridge.”

In order to prevent bridge closures and emergency repairs, our infrastructure needs a long-term, sustainable funding solution, rather than a one-time infusion that only lasts a few years. An article in Engineering News-Record explained the dismal future of the Highway Trust Fund if Congress does not use the coming years to find a solution.

Lack of investment also leads to costly fixes and high out-of-pocket expenses for drivers. TRIP, a national transportation research group, estimated the cost to drivers is $516 per year. According to AAA, potholes alone cost drivers $15 billion during the past five years, and TRIP reported that commuter delays add up to more trips to the gas pump, costing drivers time and an additional $121 billion in wasted fuel.

In order to curb some of these costs and rejuvenate our economy, it is important to find a long-term, sustainable funding source for surface transportation before the FAST Act expires.

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