Governor Edward G. Rendell pointed to a national report card that gave Pennsylvania a cumulative grade of "D" on the condition of its roads, water systems, and other critical infrastructure as more evidence that the United States must increase its investment in infrastructure.
The American Society of Civil Engineers reported last week that nation's infrastructure needs now total $2.2 trillion over the next five years – an increase of 38 percent from just five years ago.
"At the state level, we have made unprecedented investments in infrastructure repair, but we can't keep up with the needs. Even with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding it's impossible to do anything but fix, repair and maintain our infrastructure and by the time we complete repairs on one project, two others need to be fixed.
The Most Deficient Bridges
"Pennsylvania has nearly tripled funding for bridge repair since 2003, yet we still have the highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. This year alone, we will invest nearly $3 billion – by far the most highway and bridge work ever produced in a single year in Pennsylvania – but we'll barely scratch the surface of what needs to be done.
"Pennsylvania is not alone. Every state is facing staggering costs for repairs to its aging and under funded infrastructure," Governor Rendell said.
Every $1 billion of new transportation spending creates approximately 30,000 direct and indirect jobs. Meanwhile, failing to tackle the nation's infrastructure challenge means that the United States will be at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to other nations – limiting economic growth and job creation.
"If we don't act now to begin investing in job-creating infrastructure repairs our children and grandchildren will be saddled with a financial burden beyond our wildest imagination," the Governor said. "That's why I joined with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form Building America's Future. Transparency, accountability and reform are the pillars that guide our diverse and growing coalition.
"We must now create a transportation policy that fosters good-paying jobs, improves U.S. economic competitiveness, moves people and goods with efficiency, enhances quality of life for our citizens and communities, and creates a cleaner, healthier, safer environment for our families."
During testimony March25 before a U.S. Senate panel in Washington, Governor Rendell continued to push for reform-minded solutions to get infrastructure investment back on track.
He called for creation of a national infrastructure bank to play a vital role in financing projects with major national impact or cover multiple states.
"Such a bank could choose projects based on merit which would create a healthy level of competition among states, cities, towns and agencies to develop projects that achieve the best results in the most cost-effective way," he said.
"In addition, the federal government should, like state and local governments, should adopt a capital budget that spreads the cost of projects over the life of the asset, rather than paying for it up front.
ASCE Link to State Ratings
The American Society of Civil Engineers 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, including a link to state-specific report cards is available online at: www.infrastructurereportcard.org.
More information about Building America's Future is available at: www.investininfrastructure.org.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit: www.governor.state.pa.us.