By Dennis Pearson Jr., Staff Writer
The American Society of Civil Engineers released their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card evaluating the condition of all levels of U.S. infrastructure. The report card is released every four years and just like the 2013 report, the nation earned a cumulative grade of D+ for infrastructure across all 50 states. The level of infrastructure that earned the lowest individual grade was public transit with a D- while the highest individual grade was for railway systems with a B. New Jersey’s state grade was also a D+. It’s lowest individual grade was for public transit and levees with a D- while it’s highest was for solid waste management with a B-. National funding gaps were as low as 6 billion dollars for levels of infrastructure like toxic and solid waste management combined. Funding gaps went as high as over 2 trillion dollars just for public transit and bridges combined.
Due to the dire need to repair America’s decaying infrastructure, President Donald Trump proposed a vague plan to spend 1 trillion dollars on repairing America’s roads, bridges, pipe systems etc. Although 1 trillion dollars would tremendously improve our infrastructure, and stimulate job growth, according to the report from representatives of the ASCE and professionals in the civil engineering field, that would only put a symbolic bandage on the problem. Because many of these levels of infrastructure date back over a hundred years,lack modern innovations and have not received yearly repairs, the ASCE estimates that it would take three trillion dollars to repair and modernize all levels of national infrastructure. That’s three times what President Trump is putting towards infrastructure repair.
From water main breaks and huge pot holes to the NJ Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains to the Flint water crises, all these problems go back to our collapsing infrastructure. Infrastructure is the most important priority for a country. It provides citizens with clean water at the flip of a faucet. It keeps the lights on at night and the heat in a home. It allows citizens to travel anywhere at anytime. It disposes of bodily and physical waste which can cause disease if not taken care of. It allows communication,sharing and networking across thousands of miles with any human being imaginable. It allows food and products of endless variety to be distributed anywhere in the world. Infrastructure is not only necessary to life, it is the backbone of our modern world. It is estimated that without repairing it, the U.S. could lose 3.5 trillion dollars in its Gross Domestic Product by 2025. Without a modern infrastructure, many people would die. Politicians in NJ are desperately trying to gather funds for the Transportation Trust Fund through the new tax hike. But more needs to be done.
It’s up to citizens to convey to their local and state officials about the importance of infrastructure. What the state and federal governments are spending tax dollars on must be addressed as well. Americans will have no choice but to spend part of their paychecks towards infrastructure in order to raise the three trillion dollars. It’s the only way to maintain the privileged lifestyle many Americans have. Either that or postpone repair until it’ll cost even more or worse, total societal collapse.