By all accounts, the bipartisan infrastructure deal recently reached by Congress was huge. At $ 1.2 trillion, it represents the largest federal injection of dollars into the country’s infrastructure in more than a decade.
But despite the price of the legislation’s mind-boggling sticker, this is only a partial down payment on the infrastructure investment gap that exists in Pennsylvania and the United States.
Civil engineers – those hard hat experts who rate bridges, roads and dams for structural deficiencies and who assess the resilience of our electricity grid and inland waterways – will tell you that this spending spree of $ 1. $ 2 trillion is actually less than half of US $ 2.590 billion. capital investment deficit. No one can claim that this bill is not huge. But Pennsylvania’s needs are even greater, and only public-private partnerships can effectively and efficiently bridge the gap between the demand for physical infrastructure and capital.
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Because Pennsylvania has some of the oldest physical infrastructure in the country and these assets have a finite lifespan, residents face all-too-common water line breaks, sewer overflows, and poor road conditions. that cost motorists over $ 600. annually in auto repairs.
The infrastructure bill will provide more than $ 18 billion for the Commonwealth’s physical infrastructure needs over five years, but it is not a sufficient investment with some of the poorest roads and among the highest number of bridges structurally deficient, poor roads and high-risk dams, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Let’s look at the numbers. The state currently spends around $ 6.9 billion to repair its roads and highways, but Gov. Tom Wolf has said it will cost around $ 15 billion each year to fix the problems that exist today. Meanwhile, the infrastructure bill will only provide $ 11 billion for highway upgrades in the space of five years.
Pennsylvania has the fifth-worst highway infrastructure in the country, with 30% of its roads in poor condition and one in five bridges classified as structurally deficient, according to a national survey of Federal Highway Administration data by Lending Tree. Since these areas are critical to the economic vitality of the state, continued underinvestment and neglect hurts working families and increases the potential cost of repairs.
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Pennsylvania is on the cusp of historic federal government funding, but it’s not enough to meet the vast need that exists in communities across the state. Indeed, it would be a serious mistake to think that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will fill the state’s infrastructure investment gap. Even if monetary policy was irrelevant, the government could not print enough money to meet all of the state’s infrastructure needs.
Public-private partnerships would radically stretch public investment in infrastructure by combining it with the resources and expertise of the private sector in the design, construction, renovation, maintenance and operation of important assets infrastructure. This cooperative model has succeeded in transforming everything from parking lots to airports, toll roads and bridges, into incredible financial assets for governments across the country, and it can do the same here, on time and on time. from the budget.
Pennsylvania has a generational opportunity to catapult itself over the region if it allows and encourages private participation in infrastructure, because these investments – in electricity and broadband connectivity, education and health facilities , aviation, rail and inland waterway commerce – are dynamic. economic drivers. Bring the private sector to the table because government cannot and should not do it alone.
Lawrence Slade is Managing Director of the Global Infrastructure Investor Association, an organization representing investors with $ 1,000 billion in infrastructure assets under management.