Target: Congressman John Delaney (D-MD)
Goal: Reinvest in crumbling infrastructure after recent bridge collapse in Washington state
President Obama’s repeated calls for national, large-scale reinvestment garnered headlines over the last several months. As The Atlantic reported in late March, Obama reiterated his fifth call for investment — $21 billion in total — in five years. Aside from several billion contained in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus bill), Congress has repeatedly rejected all bills containing substantial infrastructure spending, led by the Republican opposition.
The continued deterioration of America’s infrastructure cannot, however, remain a sidelined national priority — indeed, countless American travelers face very real risks in a deficient infrastructure system. The May 23rd collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington state adds to a growing list of major events. Perhaps the best known recent example of America’s crumbling infrastructure is the August 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, which killed 13 people and injured nearly 150.
The 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, compiled annually by the American Society of Civil Engineers, indicates that these problems are pervasive. The national “GPA” for 2013 sits at a “D+” and the ASCE estimates that at least $3.6 trillion of infrastructure investment will be needed through 2020. (Washington state also received a statewide grade of D+ and the Interstate 5 bridge that collapsed was, like many bridges in the Federal highway system, deemed “structurally deficient.”)
Some in Congress appear to be getting the message. This week, Congressman John Delaney (D-MD) introduced the Partnership to Build America Act, a bipartisan proposal to substantially reinvest in our deteriorating infrastructure. The proposal calls for the creation of the American Infrastructure Fund (AIF), a total sum of $50 billion, which aims to provide loans to state and local governments and encourage public-private partnerships. Although a modest proposal in the face of our mounting national infrastructure problems, Delaney’s efforts are an essential first step toward guaranteeing the safety of Americans while investing in our collective economic futures. Urge Congress to take action on this critical, long overlooked issue and pass the Partnership to Rebuild America Act.
Dear Congressman Delaney,
Following the May 23rd collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over Washington’s Skagit River, the critical need for immediate, effective reinvestment in our nation’s infrastructure is beyond doubt. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 Report Card, comprehensively covering our mounting infrastructure problems, offered a dismal account of overall safety with a grade of D+. Continued failure to act decisively to remedy these concerns not only jeopardizes America’s global economic competitiveness, it endangers countless American lives.
Your recently introduced legislation, the Partnership to Build America Act, is an essential first step toward addressing our deteriorating roadways, railways, sanitation and water services. We, the undersigned, strongly support these efforts and encourage you to make the case to Congress that America’s continued economic recovery — and the safety of all American travelers — necessitates immediate action. Thank you.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: Tomruen via Wikimedia Commons