Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) kicked off Infrastructure Week 2017 by announcing the Nation Building Here At Home Act, a bill introduced by Higgins to address America’s crumbling infrastructure needs while putting people to work. The legislation creates a new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) grant program to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems, water infrastructure, waterways, ports and airports.
“The failure to tackle the critical needs of this country’s infrastructure is a national disgrace,” said Higgins. “With each passing day we experience lost productivity and lost opportunity. America’s infrastructure needs must be met with urgency.”
The Nation Building Here At Home Act would invest $1.263 trillion in funding for projects over the next 5 years. The allocation represents the difference between the projected level of U.S. infrastructure investment and what the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says is needed to meet U.S. infrastructure needs.
Investments in infrastructure yields substantial economic benefits, both in the short and long-term. According to Standard & Poor’s, for every $1.3 billion invested in infrastructure 29,000 construction jobs are added, resulting in $2 billion in real economic growth, and reducing the federal deficit by $200 million. Furthermore, research by Duke University and the Alliance of American Manufacturing projects a six-year transportation bill of $100 billion annually would create 2.18 million American jobs.
“Infrastructure isn’t a partisan issue,” added Higgins. “People from either side of the aisle and every corner of the country recognize the need and agree that something must be done. By speeding up slow streets we can speed the economy, by filling holes in the road we fill much needed jobs and by repairing crumbling bridges we have the opportunity to repair crumbling family incomes.”
To maximize benefits to the American economy and job growth, Congressman Higgins’ Nation Building Here at Home Act of 2017 includes a Buy America provision, guarantees prevailing wages, promotes hiring veterans, and ensures a portion of grants are directed to women and minority-owned businesses. The Nation Building Here at Home Act of 2017 also gives preference to businesses that use registered apprenticeships, encouraging opportunity for the next generation of American workers.
Drinking & Wastewater:
A recent Reuters special report listed Buffalo among the nation’s top “hotspots” for lead contamination rates among children caused by lead in aging housing stock and water pipes. New York State’s drinking water infrastructure needs is currently estimated to be $38.7 billion over 20 years. Yet currently 95% of the state’s submitted improvement projects to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program go unfunded due to high demand.
Roads & Bridges:
The most recent surface transportation bill included just $41 billion per year for highways, a third of what the DOT estimates is required to make all needed improvements.
In Western New York 81 bridges in Erie County and 21 in Niagara County are deemed structurally deficient and 228 in Erie and 55 in Niagara counties are classified functionally obsolete.
Failing Is No Longer An Option:
In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s infrastructure a grade of D+ on their Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.
Inefficient roadways and transit systems are leading to longer travel times, reducing productivity for businesses, translating to jobs losses and a decrease in personal income. Ultimately the lack of necessary investments is reducing the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). If infrastructure gaps are not met, ASCE projects the U.S. will lose nearly $4 trillion in GDP by 2025 and $18 trillion between 2016-2040 – averaging over $700 billion in losses each year.
Higgins said, “The United States has spent billions rebuilding the roads and bridges of Iraq and Afghanistan. The time is now for Nation Building here at home.”