Our infrastructure is the foundation of our country and it supports everything we rely on. It silently does its job by allowing us to move goods to markets, supply water to communities and businesses, energize our smartphones and computers, heat and cool our homes, and helps take our children safely to school. Our infrastructure touches everything in our lives.
For decades, Congress has failed to invest in these critical systems that serve as the backbone of our way of life, and the cumulative effects of this inaction are being felt nationwide, Colorado included.
American families are losing, on average, $3,300 per year due to infrastructure deficiencies. In Colorado, with potholes and insufficient transportation modes hindering commuters and unreliable clean-water access in rural areas serving as major burden, we know all too well how the costs of legislative inaction falls back onto us.
If infrastructure is the vehicle that gets us where we need to go, our check-engine light has been on for some time now.
Infrastructure investment has long been a bipartisan priority, and in 2021 our legislators finally decided to take action. In a historically divided Congress, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the Senate with a resounding vote of 69-30, proving once more that we can lead with infrastructure.
Colorado Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet voted in favor of the bill as well, playing key roles in public support of the jobs act. This five-year, $1.2 trillion package (with $550 billion in new spending) addresses the countless needs for our nation’s aging infrastructure systems, from road and bridge maintenance to lead water-pipe removal and broadband expansion.
Instead of just kicking the can down the road as has been done by dozens of previous legislative sessions, this latest Congress actually did something. That’s notable and couldn’t have come at a better time.
Prior to the jobs act, the American Society of Civil Engineers Failure to Act economic studies found that the U.S. was set to underinvest in its infrastructure by nearly $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years. Failing to close this gap would cost the nation more than $10 trillion in GDP and 3 million jobs.
The $550 billion in new spending from the jobs act over five years significantly cuts into this deficit and allows utilities and agencies to plan projects for the long-term, knowing that federal resources will be available. The act would provide Colorado with $4 billion in additional road funding over the next five years and would double the state’s current $56 million annual wastewater financing through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program.
Large portions of Colorado are underserved by passenger rail, and the state stands to benefit from the $66 billion nationwide investment for these systems. Transit options, which have long been lacking in Colorado, would get a major boost as the act would provide $39 billion in new investments to modernize and expand transit nationwide.
The time to pass this bill is now. The bill is ready, and communities are waiting. Projects that have major implications for the safety and welfare of all Americans are ready to begin or continue with federal investment, so we urge the House to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as quickly as possible.
Our check-engine light is blinking, and it’s time for our systems to get serviced because ignoring our issues will only become more and more expensive the longer we wait. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses our check-engine light. By dealing with this now, we reduce the longer-term costs of maintaining our irreplaceable infrastructure systems.
Del Shannon, of Boulder, is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers Committee on America’s Infrastructure, which puts together the national Infrastructure Report Card.
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The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to email@example.com.