Region Forward Blog

If infrastructure spending were to actually increase what would that mean for metropolitan Washington?

Oct 25, 2011
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Infrastructure has been in the news a lot lately. Whether it’s the economic stimulus effect of building new mass transit lines or the safety hazards posed by crumbling bridges infrastructure is getting a lot of play by both the traditional media and the blogosphere.

The President proposed a National Infrastructure Bank as part of the American Jobs Act that would use federal funds to leverage private sector investment in projects like high-speed rail. The ability of spending on infrastructure to generate economic activity has been heavily debated since the onset of the recession. Economists policy wonks and business leaders have been at the front of the push for infrastructure investment.

In addition to the immediate stimulus effect that infrastructure projects have on the economy and the unemployment rate the longer-term economic competitiveness of the country would also be boosted by modern reliable infrastructure. America’s infrastructure has long been severely neglected; resulting in what experts say is a “gargantuan” need for investment. At the same time the consequences of inadequate infrastructure – delay unreliability environmental degradation and congestion – impose severe economic burdens on people and businesses trying to operate in the country.

Last but certainly not least there’s a major public safety problem that accompanies all this crumbling infrastructure. Last week a study found that 215 bridges in the DC area alone were structurally deficient. The national figure? 70000. And that’s just bridges. Overall America’s infrastructure is in a miserable state – earning a “D” grade by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The health and safety impacts of such retrograde infrastructure are profuse.

The arguments for increasing infrastructure spending are numerous. For the sake of discussion let’s say there was across-the-board agreement on increasing infrastructure spending (I know I know but just for the sake of discussion). If that were the case what would that mean for the Washington region? If infrastructure spending was suddenly ramped up what would you like to see built repaired or retrofitted in metro DC?

Be creative – assume we’re talking about big investment! You can either respond here in the comments section or Tweet your response with the hashtag #DCmetroINFSTRC.

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