Plans by the US Congress to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure investment have been warmly welcomed, but care is needed to ensure the spending is steered in the right direction says D. Wayne Klotz, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released its recommended ‘Principles for Infrastructure Stimulus Investment’ designed to help guide the decision-making process when allocating economic stimulus funding for infrastructure projects poised to aid in rebuilding the USA’s economy.
ASCE is encouraged by last week’s introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, which highlights a shared focus on accountability and infrastructure investment. This investment is expected to create and sustain jobs, and begin to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure if appropriately applied to areas that most require federal support.
America’s infrastructure is in dire need of proper, sustained attention, as evident by the grade of “D” in ASCE’s 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. On 28 January this year, ASCE will release its 2009 Report Card, and early indications are that little improvement has been made in the past four years.
Infrastructure-related economic stimulus investments can reduce congestion and delays on America’s roads; enhance public transit systems; reduce blackouts, brownouts and service interruptions; update the nation’s aviation system; and replace leaking water pipes. Careful consideration must be made in the selection of projects – both in stimulus and long-term legislative solutions – to ensure that appropriated funds for infrastructure investment produce desirable results.
The House bill is an encouraging indicator that Congress shares ASCE’s recognition of the need for both infrastructure investment and strict accountability for the use of federal money in this volatile economy.
In order to guide the process of allocating funds to these important projects, ASCE has compiled guiding principles that will help steer investment in the right direction by keeping the focus on rehabilitating worn-out infrastructure to increase safety and build new infrastructure to keep the nation competitive in the global economy.
Among these principles, ASCE believes that all projects supported by an economic stimulus investment must meet the following fundamental criteria:
As the investments are made, proper attention must be paid to the prioritization and selection of these projects to ensure that the criteria are met. The following principles should guide selection decisions:
Following the release of the 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, ASCE recommended spending US$1.6 trillion over five years to bring the condition up to an acceptable level. Since that time federal funding has fallen far below that recommended level.
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