State-Local Coalition for Federal Infrastructure Investment Formed
Wollack, Leslie, Nation's Cities Weekly
The governors of Pennsylvania and California joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to announce a new coalition for federal infrastructure investment in Los Angeles last week. The newly formed group, Building America's Future, will bring together state and local elected officials to work to help presidential candidates understand the enormity of the infrastructure crisis and become a repository of best practices on infrastructure financing issues.
Bloomberg, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, will use the group to focus attention on the issue and make infrastructure funding a higher federal priority.
"We can all look at recent headlines about levees in New Orleans, air traffic congestion in the Northeast or the bridge collapse in Minnesota to realize that our nation's infrastructure is in need of serious attention," said Mayor Bloomberg. "But those examples only scratch the surface of the problem. The funding needs to maintain our existing infrastructure, and to improve and expand infrastructure as our nation continues to grow, just hasn't been the priority it needs to be."
Rendell, a former mayor and strong promoter of infrastructure investment highlighted the need for federal leadership in infrastructure investment as a stimulus for economic growth and support for America's quality of life.
"In the past 20 years, state and local governments have been forced to pay more and more of the cost for infrastructure repairs and expansion," said Rendell. "Three-quarters of our nation's infrastructure spending is by state and local governments. In the past five years Pennsylvania has increased state funding for bridge repairs by 300 percent, yet the number of structurally deficient bridges has increased."
"America needs $1.6 trillion worth of infrastructure over the next five years yet federal investment has been cut in half as a percent of gross domestic product since 1987," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "This is disastrous because without adequate infrastructure to quickly and safely move goods and people our economy and our traffic will stop dead in its tracks."
Rendell called on the federal government to take a leadership role in infrastructure investment. "Our country can't do it without federal leadership," he said. "America's infrastructure crisis is far broader than bridges and roads. The infrastructure crisis includes the basic necessities communities and businesses need to survive: schools, waterlines, wastewater treatment systems, dams, flood mitigation, hospitals, energy, aviation, rail lines, and ports. …