With one stroke, a renewed federal commitment to funding the rebuilding America’s infrastructure could help economically and environmentally.  Funding could get the economy moving and help reduce carbon emissions. For example, about 35,000 jobs are created for every $1 billion invested in infrastructure.  And how many emissions could be avoided by not burning the 5.7 billion gallons annually wasted in traffic jams, not to mention energy savings?

But what about the quality of the projects?  Funded infrastructure projects must provide for the greater common good.  Congress cannot approve earmarks or neighborhood special interest projects – swimming pools and tennis courts come to mind.  Projects that benefit all Americans include critical commerce corridors, upgrades to existing highways, ports and water systems.

Up to 3,000 of these much needed projects could start within 60-90 days of funding, and funding is needed immediately.  The U.S. needs to invest upwards of $340 billion in transportation projects, but it only invests $85 billion now.  This shortfall has cost us dearly in global competitiveness and will cost the country more in the future.  We must meet the funding challenge for our infrastructure needs.

Washington will consider major bills in 2009 for reauthorization of airport, highway/transit and water infrastructure (the annual shortfall in funding water infrastructure is “only” $23 billion).  Congress should pass a stimulus package quickly that will provide needed jobs and initiate desperately needed infrastructure upgrades.

The U.S. has an infrastructure crisis.  The time for action by the Congress and the new Administration is now.