I have been reading up on the sorry state of America’s national infrastructure. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America is in pretty desperate straits. Our roads, bridges, airports, and water supply systems nationwide are literally crumbling and decaying right before our eyes. Here is their report card and estimated costs to fix the problems as of 2009, which is apparently the latest full report card they have issued. So these estimates and the cost are probably much higher by now, I would guess closing rapidly in on $3 trillion dollars needed repairs and replacements.
Drinking Water D-
Hazardous Waste D
Inland Waterways D-
Public Parks and Recreation C-
Solid Waste C+
America’s Infrastructure GPA: D
Estimated 5 Year Investment Need: $2.2 Trillion
Remember that Republican president Dwight Eisenhower?
You know, the one who had the government invest in and oversee the building of the National Defense Highway System, also known as the greatest national highway system since the Romans? The infrastructure backbone that altered population and urban and living center distribution, and is the key to transportation of goods and services nationwide? The one that helps insure when we go to the grocery store every day there is fresh fruit, vegetables, and just about anything else to purchase and eat every day of the year? Not just when in season locally?
Now how the heck did a road system that today has cost over $425 BILLION dollars to build and maintain get financed?
In the contiguous United States, Interstate Highways are funded federally with money shared among the states. The H Interstates in Hawaii and the “paper” Interstates in Alaska and Puerto Rico are funded in the same way.
About 70% of the construction and maintenance costs of highways in the U.S. are covered through user fees (net of collection costs), primarily fuel taxes collected by the federal government and state and local governments, and to a much lesser extent tolls collected on toll roads and bridges. The 1956 Highway Trust Fund, established by the Highway Revenue Act, mandated a three-cent-per-gallon tax, soon increased to 4.5 cents. In 1993 the tax reached 18.4 cents per gallon where it remains.
The rest of the costs are borne by general fund receipts, bond issues, and designated property and other taxes. The federal contribution is overwhelmingly from motor vehicle and fuel taxes (93.5% in 2007), as is about 60% of the state contribution. However, local contributions are overwhelmingly from sources other than user fees.[
Why, through taxes and debt (that is what issuing bonds is, you know).
If Eisenhower were president today, the current insane right wing of America would denounce him for being a a commie socialist, and the highway system act of 1956 would righteously be voted down as just more than we could afford. We have to draw a line in the sand somewhere on the future, right?
I mean, what if Eisenhower, our current president, were to make funds available to, say, fund the beginnings of a national high speed rail network?
Why, I bet some governors would turn the funds down, saying they don’t need some socialist islamofacist four lane road network.
Prove me wrong, if you can.