Obama Renews Calls For Investments To Rebuild Infrastructure, Boost Economy

President Obama renewed his push for infrastructure investments Wednesday, issuing a plan the White House said would help repair the nation’s ailing roads and bridges while creating jobs and boosting the economy.

The plan calls for $50 billion in new spending, $40 billion of which would be devoted to “the most urgent upgrades” to roads, bridges, and highways that need repairs. According to a White House release, the investments would bring nearly 80 percent of the nation’s 70,000 structurally deficient roads and bridges up to date:

The President’s plan for $50 billion in frontloaded transportation infrastructure investment would direct $40 billion towards reducing the backlog of deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports nationwide. For example, the President’s proposed investments could bring almost 80 percent of structurally deficient bridges up to date, getting Americans home faster and making the flow of commerce speedier.

The proposal is more modest than other Obama plans that have been blocked by Republicans in Congress, though the $50 billion fund is similar to a portion of the American Jobs Act. That plan, blocked by Republicans in 2011, also included other infrastructure investments and proposals to help the economy, and it would have created more than a million jobs and boosted economic growth by nearly two percent, according to economic estimates. The Congressional Progressive Caucus also called for infrastructure investments in its plan to avert the automatic spending cuts that will begin taking effect March 1.

Recent studies have shown that investing in infrastructure provides major boosts to the economy, and some estimates suggest that the United States would need nearly $2 trillion in investments to bring existing infrastructure up to date. Without major investments, even larger than those Obama called for, the country could lose $3 trillion in gross domestic product and 3.5 million jobs, according to a January report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.