The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus package signed into law by President Obama in 2009, improved America’s infrastructure, but the United States still needs a massive investment over the next seven years to keep its infrastructure up to date, according to a report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The report gave American infrastructure a D+ grade, tying the 2001 grade as the highest the United States has ever received and an improvement from the D it received in 2009. But the U.S. also need substantial investments between now and 2020 to keep its infrastructure in good repair (a B grade), according to the report. The U.S., the report estimates, will spend roughly $1.6 trillion between now and 2020 on infrastructure investment, far short of the $3.6 trillion it needs to reach a B grade:
The stimulus bill helped turn around the American economy during the Great Recession in part because it included substantial investments into infrastructure projects. Obama proposed further infrastructure investments as part of the American Jobs Act in 2011, but that plan was repeatedly blocked by Republicans in both the House and the Senate. Other funding for infrastructure improvements has been put off or reduced because of budget cuts and deficit reduction efforts.
Still, with unemployment high and borrowing costs at historic lows, the United States could afford to boost its investments into infrastructure to close the gap the ASCE says exists at a cost to the federal government that is far lower now than it will be in the future. At the same time, those investments would provide a sizable boost to the American economy.