Infrastructure Modernization is Key to Economic Success
The Department of Transportation projects that, compared to tonnages recorded in 2001, total freight moved through U.S. ports will increase by more than 50 percent by 2020 and the volume of international container traffic will more than double. This increasingly will require a major investment in infrastructure and modernization at the nation’s ports.
To modernize their facilities, it is estimated that ports will require $8.6 billion by 2010 for infrastructure investments. Why is this important? Because U.S. ports contribute significant benefits to local and regional economies, including generating business development and job opportunities. Commercial port activities create more than 15 million American jobs, including nearly 12 million who are employed in exporter/importer-related businesses and support industries throughout the U.S. Business activities related to waterborne commerce contributed approximately $3.15 trillion overall to the U.S. economy. And those same businesses paid nearly $212.5 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
And how much of the Obama Recovery Act has been dedicated by Congress to upgrade port facilities? About $720 million, to modernize some ports that were built prior to World War II. That’s just not going to cut it!
Investing in Interstate infrastructure
Balance the need for international shipping against interstate shipping, and you see how much the U.S. economy depends on transportation. According to a recent study by the RAND corporation, the long-term efficiency and effectiveness of the U.S. freight transportation system is threatened by bottlenecks, inefficient use of some parts of the infrastructure components, vulnerability to disruptions, and crucial environmental and energy concerns.
The U.S. freight transportation system moves about $40 billion worth of goods each day, with delays and uncertainty in the performance of the system translating into higher prices for consumers and reduced productivity. The study concludes that despite the global financial crisis, experts continue to estimate that there will be increased demand for freight transportation in the future, even as the capacity of the nation's highways, port and railroads are nearing their limits in key urban areas and transportation corridors.
What’s the solution? The Obama administration has proposed an ambitious Infrastructure program to put Americans to work, but many people are skeptical that we’ll be able to match shovel-ready jobs with shovel-ready workers.
Ignoring the infrastructure is like ignoring the nation’s future economic growth. To succeed and maintain our leadership, both require the investment of capital and brains.
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