Failure to Act report released


“We cannot solve the budget deficit without solving the infrastructure deficit.”

– Representative Earl Blumenauer

Today, ASCE released Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Surface Transportation Infrastructure. The report found the nation’s deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 870,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product by $897 billion by 2020.

The report, conducted by the Economic Development Research Group of Boston, showed that in 2010, deficiencies in America’s roads, bridges, and transit systems cost American households and businesses more than $129 billion, including approximately $97 billion in vehicle operating costs, $32 billion in delays in travel time, $1.2 billion in safety costs, and $590 million in environmental costs.

If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, those costs are expected to grow exponentially. Within 10 years, U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion.

Productivity across the business sector will also tumble.  Those increased costs will cause businesses to underperform by $240 billion over the next decade.  As a result, U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion, including 79 of 93 tradable commodities.  America would also lose jobs in high-value sectors as business income goes down.  Almost 877,000 jobs would be lost by 2020, primarily in the high-value, professional, business and medical sectors which are vital to America’s knowledge-based service economy.  Ultimately, Americans will get paid less.  While the economy would lose jobs, those who are able to find work will find their paychecks cut by nearly 30 percent.

A lack of investment in transportation infrastructure would hurt American families who would see their household incomes fall by $60 a month by 2020, while having to spend $30 per month more for goods. The total cost to families would exact about $10,600 per family between now and 2020, equal to $1,060 per year on household budgets.

The report estimates that in order to bring the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure up to tolerable levels, policymakers would need to invest approximately $1.7 trillion between now and 2020 in the nation’s highways and transit systems.  The U.S. is currently on track to spend a portion of that – $877 billion – during the same timeframe. The infrastructure funding gap equals $846 billion over 9 years or $94 billion per year.

Small investments in infrastructure, equal to about 60 percent of what Americans spend on fast food each year, would:

  • Protect 1.1 million jobs
  • Save Americans 200 million hours in travel time each year and
  • Deliver an average of $1,068 to each family, and
  • Protect $2,600 in GDP for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Check out the infographics for this report!

The report, the first of four scheduled by the Society, examined the country’s surface transportation infrastructure.  Future reports will examine the state of the nation’s infrastructure as it relates to water and, wastewater delivery and treatment; energy transmission; and airports and marine ports.

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