Fixing it is half the battle.
That's why, when it comes to America's infrastructure, the Biden administration is taking a broad approach.
President Biden is calling for investments that not only repair critical components for transportation, water and energy, but modernize and reinforce those areas as well. Doing so, he claims, better prepares the U.S. for next-generation, energy-efficient technology and addresses vulnerabilities exposed by climate change as well racial and socio-economic inequities.
The administration also is betting that these investments lead to job creation, and that is why the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal set forth by Biden is dubbed the American Jobs Plan. It's not only an investment in the infrastructure around roads and bridges, homes and businesses, electrical grids and water systems—it's also an investment in manufacturing, job training and education.
Although it's labeled as a "jobs" plan, the proposal is, at its core, an infrastructure proposal. And, according to the administration, America's infrastructure is long overdue for a hearty investment.
"After decades of disinvestment, our roads, bridges, and water systems are crumbling. Our electric grid is vulnerable to catastrophic outages," the White House said in a statement issued March 31. "Too many lack access to affordable, high-speed Internet and to quality housing."
The National Association of Manufacturers, in "Building to Win," an infrastructure plan it released in 2019, cited a PricewaterhouseCoopers finding that a $1 trillion infrastructure investment could lead to 11 million jobs created.
"The President's proposal for historic levels of infrastructure investment reflects many of the investment priorities in the NAM's 'Building to Win' plan, and we look forward to reviewing the details," NAM said in a statement. "President Biden's clear focus on strengthening manufacturing and the work force of the future shows that he is truly committed to building the next post-pandemic world—one that is stronger and more resilient than in pre-pandemic times."
Making the grade
The American Society of Civil Engineers knows well the state of U.S. infrastructure, offering quadrennial assessments of key facets such as roads, bridges, railways and energy grids. The latest report card, issued in February, examines the state of 17 separate areas across transportation, energy and public services.
Overall, the ASCE gave U.S. infrastructure a C-.
Eleven of the 17 evaluated categories received D ratings: aviation, dams, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, public parks, roads, schools, stormwater, transit and wastewater.
Bridges, drinking water, energy and solid waste received grades in the C range, while rail and ports received grades of B and B-, respectively.
"This is not a report card anyone would be proud to take home," ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith said in a statement. "We have not made significant enough investments to maintain infrastructure that, in some cases, was built more than 50 years ago.
"As this study shows, we risk significant economic losses, higher costs to consumers, businesses and manufacturers—and our quality of life—if we don't act urgently," Smith added. "When we fail to invest in infrastructure, we pay the price."