It’s time to recognize the impact our crumbling infrastructure has on our business, our lives, and our future. We are talking about the roads and bridges that are needed by our country, region, or business organization to function properly. There are 178 million daily crossings on over 47,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a grade of D+ in its latest report card, adding that “if this investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors by 2025, the economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP, resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025.
America’s trucking industry knows what’s at stake. Trucks moved 10.77 billion tons of freight every year. This is a task made ever more challenging by the bad conditions of America’s roadways and bridges. Truck tonnage is projected to grow by 27% over the next decade. Without new federal funding for infrastructure, the transportation industry will find it extremely difficult to meet these demands at the price and service levels that American businesses expect to compete globally.
While we focus on the implications of tariffs and a trade war with China, Beijing has engaged in an “infrastructure arms race”, according to a recent article in Foreign Affairs. Through substantial investments in infrastructure, China is creating commercial corridors that will extend its economic reach far across the world. These new trade routes will serve to expand China’s sphere of influence across the East, strengthening its posture as a counter to America and our Western allies.
China’s planned Belt and Road Initiative could further shift the global strategic landscape in Beijing’s favor, with infrastructure lending as its primary lever for global influence. This is not driven by foreign policy but by domestic infrastructure policy. China is paving its way to economic supremacy, while economic supremacy, while America stares into a chasm.
Thirty years ago, there were no highways in China. Today, its national highway network spans more than 88,000 miles. This is more than any other country in the world. They are not slowing down: since 2011, the Chinese have built 6,000 miles of new highway every year.
In 2008, the collapse of the I35W Mississippi River Bridge during Minneapolis rush hour traffic cost 13 lives and injured 145. It brought the condition of the nation's infrastructure into the media spotlight. But what has been done since then? Our roads and bridges continue to demonstrate the need for major repairs.
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, this past April a concrete beam fell from an I-75 overpass onto I-24. This is further proof of the continuing crumbling of our infrastructure on one of the most heavily trafficked intersections in the United States.
Our failing infrastructure cannot support the nation's economy indefinitely. The nation’s infrastructure problems are solvable if we have leadership and commit to making good ideas a reality. We urge you to tell Congress to invest in America’s roads and bridges because we cannot afford to wait any longer.
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