Column: States Are Breaking Ground, Even as Congress Delays

11/19/2019
From the Editors | The Infrastructure Issue

Political observers like to point out that, despite the partisan acrimony in Congress, our representatives agree on at least one thing: Our nation’s aging infrastructure is in tough shape.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has given our transit, communication, sewage, water, electric and other vital systems a D-plus grade, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the need to invest in these assets that are so vital to our health, safety and economic prosperity.

Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump even agreed earlier this year that addressing our most pressing infrastructure problems will cost at least $2 trillion over 25 years. Fixing crumbling roads, highways and bridges alone could top $1 trillion.

Unfortunately, that’s as far as the bipartisan geniality went. The parties disagreed on how the needed upgrades and other investments should be funded. That leaves the states, which already pay 90% of the cost of operating and maintaining public infrastructure, to act on their own and, increasingly, seek private investment.

In this issue, beginning on page 10, we look at the planning frameworks and new funding approaches states are experimenting with in four key infrastructure areas: transportation, drinking water, wastewater and disaster mitigation.

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