A few weeks ago, a new report from CG/LA Infrastructure and Autodesk offered a six-point plan to address the dismal D+ grade from our 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. As Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) put it, “there are real economic costs associated with our infrastructure gridlock. This is a domestic emergency.” Throughout the new report, we see many parallels between the six recommendations and both the Vision and Key Solutions offered in our Report Card: leadership at all levels of government, promoting sustainability and resilience, and making sure that we have comprehensive plans in place to make the best decisions on how to spend our limited dollars.
Perhaps the most critical point between the two reports is that we need to view all of the recommendations through the lens of an interconnected infrastructure system. It’s not about choosing a sector to prioritize first – whether that be roads, water, or our energy grid. Unfortunately, our maze of agencies and jurisdictions that deal with infrastructure policy are most often set up that way.
In order to keep the momentum going to raise the grades, we are going to have to embrace a holistic method of infrastructure planning that recognizes that the system is only as good as its weakest link. Our water treatment plans rely on vast quantities of energy. Our ports rely on reliable roads and railroad connections to move goods off the docks to your local store.
We know that long-term planning, leadership, and innovation are the answers. We have examples of cities and states that are tackling ambitious projects across our infrastructure modes, but we need more of this type of leadership. Only then will we have an infrastructure system ready to support a growing 21st-century economy.