I welcome President Obama’s plan to spend on domestic infrastructure to combat the recession to create jobs and pump $825 billion into the U.S. economy. But if the stimulus is to deliver real value, accountability will be key: Just how well will this money be spent? Allocating huge sums for building new road infrastructure, for example, will have the unwelcome consequence of adding to the problem of an already significantly underfunded road maintenance program.
Systemic underfunding for decades has left the road networks across North America, Europe and Australia in an extremely poor and often unsafe state, with the resulting congestion creating significant economic cost in lost productivity. Adding new road infrastructure without addressing the maintenance problem will simply add to this funding gap, estimated at over $1 trillion in the U.S. alone.
It is only by addressing decades of underfunding in maintenance and embarking upon planned and managed maintenance strategies that the government can both reinvigorate the economy with new jobs and deliver a much-needed productivity boost by reducing crippling levels of congestion.
What is needed now is a coordinated campaign across America of defining a level of service the population actually desires and then allocating and monitoring funds in a way to ensure current infrastructure is brought up to a quality state that can be maintained cost effectively.
Time for Maglev
This is a brief note of congratulations on the recent Viewpoint titled “Finally Maglev Leadership”. My most sincere appreciation to Kevin Coates, founder of International Maglev Board and to Engineering News-Record for staying, as always, ahead of the curve in allowing this advancing technology which has been neglected for so long in this country to resurface and receive consideration.