As America is in the midst of a financial crisis and on the brink of making the 'largest investment in infrastructure since the National Highway System,' to stimulate new economic activity, it is essential that the country invest these dollars wisely in projects that will stimulate economic growth and ensure that America's infrastructure remains competitive. This means it cannot be spending as usual. A new approach is needed that establishes a new level of accountability, transparency, and economic and environmental performance for how this country invests in infrastructure projects.
When it comes to infrastructure, America has been flying blind, lacking a national investment plan to make the country competitive in the 21st century. Now is the time for change. We should only invest in projects that achieve job creation in the short run while creating the foundation for long-term economic success and energy independence.
To help shape this agenda, America 2050 convened the country's leading civic, environmental, and transportation organizations, as well as transportation officials and business leaders, to develop clear, simple, and feasible recommendations for rebuilding America's infrastructure as well as stimulating both short- and long-term economic growth.
America 2050 Infrastructure Recommendations: Stimulus-Economic Recovery-Renewal
- FIX: To immediately create jobs and stimulate economic growth we need to 'fix it first,' that is, invest in the repair and maintenance of the country's deteriorated bridges, roads, public transit, passenger & freight rail, electric grids and other essential infrastructure components that have been neglected for decades.
- PHASE: All the monies cannot be spent at once. While we must get a first group of 'shovel ready' projects under construction as soon as possible, there are limits to the number of projects that can be initiated immediately. A series of phases should allow for the development of strategic projects, job training, and the building of capacity in construction, manufacturing, engineering and project management fields - all of which are essential to successfully carrying out the work.
- GREEN: Priority should be given to projects that foster energy independence, safeguard the environment, promote healthy & compact communities, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- TRAIN: Investment in America's infrastructure will create hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs, both immediately and for decades to come. To ensure that these large-scale projects are completed quickly and successfully, we need to invest in job training programs that will provide our workforce with the required skills. And, equally important, the jobs should be accessible to the people in the communities most deeply affected by the current economic crisis.
- COUNT: Funding must be set aside to measure and analyze the results of these federal investments and their outcomes: job creation, cost-effectiveness, greenhouse gas reductions, increased energy efficiency, etc.
ACCOUNTABILITY - NEW OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
If America is to remain economically competitive, we cannot afford 'business as usual' when it comes to infrastructure investments. Therefore, a new federal oversight committee is required to both streamline the investment process and also establish accountability.
We propose creating a National Recovery and Renewal Council, comprised of representatives from federal, state, and city agencies, as well as the private sector. The Council would report directly to the White House, charged with eliminating the red tape in implementing projects, as well as developing criteria and accountability measures that will guarantee that America meets its infrastructure goals, from energy independence to reduced carbon emissions to increased mobility.
ABOUT AMERICA 2050
America 2050 is a national initiative to develop an infrastructure strategy for America's future growth, competitiveness and sustainability. The organization is comprised of the country's leading civic, environmental and transportation organizations, as well as elected officials and business leaders. For more information go to www.America2050.org.