U.S. infrastructure suffers from a serious funding gap. In the quest to raise more money for infrastructure, the Trump administration recently proposed an increase in the federal gas tax. This has drawn renewed attention to America's infrastructure challenges.
Infrastructure is one of those issues that normally holds broad bipartisan appeal. Even the casual observer can see that America's infrastructure, the backbone of our national economy, is in dire need of repair.
This didn't happen overnight, and it didn't happen by accident. Basic maintenance on many transportation infrastructure facilities has been deferred, often for decades. Freight is moving too slowly, while dams and levees are deteriorating rapidly. Energy grids are stretched thin, while U.S. transit systems are second to all and the envy of none.
Nearly every state is currently struggling just to keep its existing infrastructure in good repair, let alone finding enough money to address rapidly growing new demands on transportation and other systems. Each year that another critical repair or capacity expansion project is deferred, it costs us dearly. Although the current debate has focused on $1 trillion over ten years, experts contend that we need to spend even more and much quicker.
The overall gap between the U.S.'s infrastructure needs and current funding is often pegged at around $2 trillion. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that investment gap will result in dramatic costs to the U.S. economy by 2025: $3.9 trillion in losses to gross domestic product; $7 trillion in lost business sales; and the loss of 2.5 million American jobs.
The ASCE's 2017 Report Card gave America's transportation infrastructure a shameful overall grade of D. And with phrases like, "strong risk of failure… significant deterioration… many elements approaching the end of their service life," the details of the report hardly make for reassuring bedtime reading.