THE INFRASTRUCTURE CHALLENGE

by Ryan Avent

To follow up on the last post, consider this bit of news from the American Society of Civil Engineers -- it would cost some $2.2 trillion to bring our nation's current infrastructure stock into a state of good repair. Now to be fair, the American Society of Civil Engineers has an interest in selling the idea that we need to spend trillions on infrastructure repair. On the other hand, that $2.2 trillion figure doesn't take into account all the new infrastructure we could reasonably build -- new port capacity, new rail lines, new urban transit systems, new power grids, new water systems, new communications capacity, and so on. America could fruitfully spend a great deal of money on its built environment.

Given that, it's a little difficult to see the use in battling over a few billions in the stimulus bill. What's necessary is major institutional reform and new, long-run sources of funding. It's going to take some planning to do this right, and it is much more important to do it right than to do it right this very second.

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