The coronavirus pandemic is worsening the problem of infrastructure underinvestment, and the main solution is to increase federal spending in that area, says a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
COVID-19’s Impacts on America’s Infrastructure is a current status report on the pandemic’s detrimental effects on the nation’s critical, yet aging and underinvested infrastructure, including airports, bridges, dams, ports, roads, transit, and water supply.
The 14-page report notes that the pandemic has resulted in a falloff in a variety of user-generated revenue sources that support infrastructure, such as gas taxes and other transportation fees, transit receipts and airport income — and offers solutions for Congress to consider in both its short-term emergency response and longer-range economic recovery strategy.
Congress should make infrastructure investment a centerpiece of its immediate response and long-term economic recovery strategy. Now is the time to renew, modernize, and invest in our infrastructure to maintain our international competitiveness. — ASCE
IMPACTS – The report details the numerous impacts of COVID-19, including:
- A 49% drop in revenue from the federal Highway Trust Fund in May 2020 compared to May 2019
- A projected 30% revenue decline in the next 18 months for the nation’s state Departments of Transportation (DOTs)
- An estimated $23.3 billion loss in airport revenue due to a 95% decline in domestic air travel
- An estimated decline of 20 to 30% in total annual receipts at ports
- Dramatic nationwide ridership declines in transit systems, such as a 55% decrease in ridership on LA Metro
- Approximately 17% loss in annualized revenue in the drinking water sector, including losses related to suspending water service disconnections
SOLUTIONS – Noting that it is “encouraged” that many of these recommendations are included in H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, ASCE urges Congress to:
- Pass a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization, that addresses the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, before the authorization expires on September 30th, 2020
- Provide $50 billion in immediate, short-term relief for the nation’s state DOTs to ensure that bridges, roads, and transit systems remain safe, reliable, and ready for Americans to resume pre-pandemic routines
- Provide an extra $10 billion in relief to mitigate the pandemic’s growing impacts on the nation’s airports, in addition to the $10 billion provided in the CARES Act
- Provide $1.5 billion to support operations and capital costs at our nation’s seaports, and appropriate $1 billion in supplemental funding for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program
- Fully fund the High Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Program at the authorized amount of $60 million for 2021 and pass the Dam Safety Improvement Act
- Include federal drinking water and wastewater assistance for ratepayers and provide water agencies with economic relief to combat revenue losses, and allocate an additional $300 million per year in grants for the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds
- Include the Rebuild America’s School Infrastructure Act in future economic relief packages to create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond targeted at schools in economically disadvantaged communities