A Trillion Dollars For Infrastructure
Would one trillion even be enough? Just in the past few weeks, the PA/NJ Turnpike Connector Bridge was shut down after a crack in a support beam was discovered. No idea when this 60 year old bridge will reopen.
Over the weekend we heard about how the biggest dam in the country started to fail when the spillway eroded into a big sinkhole and the emergency backup spillway disintegrated when it was used. Over 180,000 Californians had to evacuate. Late last month, I also read about a huge sinkhole causing problems in Cheltenham Township.
Infrastructure would include roads and highways, bridges, the power grid, railroads, the ports and the airports.
Not only are the structures of many of our airports obsolete but so are the systems! Systems like air traffic control. Many flights are still tracked on vacuum tube radar screen, which I think Moses brought back from Mt. Sinai. Not only are updates slow, but individual planes are tracked on the screens with little handwritten paper tabs. I was shocked to read recently that there are 27,000 flights a day in the U.S. and on the average day 2.2 million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo are in the air.
Other countries have high-speed rail. We have Amtrak. We’re only like 35 or 40 years behind. Not too bad.
So… would a trillion dollars make an immediate impact on jobs, GDP growth and actually fix our crumbling infrastructure anytime soon? Probably not. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (read here) it can take years – sometimes decades – for a project to get through all the impact studies and community opposition groups. As an example, the article shines light on a project in southern California from the 1950s. Yes… the ’50s.
The idea was to build a six-mile freeway extension on SR 710. The extension is still being fought in court. I thought the Blue Route took a long time. That was nothing compared to this delay. Oh… and remember the Woodhaven Road expressway? Yep… the one that still stops at Route 1 (Roosevelt Blvd.) and will probably never get finished. By the way, when we were younger we called Woodhaven Road the Woodhaven Autobahn. The signs said 95 and we thought that was the speed limit. Oops… they were signs for I-95 entrance ramps. Oh well… we were so bad!
Will the trillion dollars make an impact at all? My first prediction is that this is one campaign promise President Trump will not get through Congress. But even if he did, it would take probably eight to 10 years before we started to spend a big chunk of that easy trillion. What do you think?