America’s infrastructure: The secret to greatness

President-elect Trump has spoken passionately about the urgent need for investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, calling for a “bold, visionary plan for a cost-effective system of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railroads, ports and waterways, and pipelines.”  His advocacy for modernizing America’s creaky transportation system is heartening and reinforces the value such investments have in bolstering our nation’s economy and creating jobs.

Mr. Trump understands that infrastructure investments are central to economic vitality.  Indeed, when he laid out his vision for infrastructure, the President-elect pledged to, “Transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains with a deficit-neutral plan targeting substantial new infrastructure investments.” 

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While the need to fix our dilapidated roads and bridges is well documented, the needs of aging airports and seaports are not as easily recognized by the millions of Americans who count on those modes of transportation to stimulate commerce and create jobs through increased business, leisure travel and shipping. 

As leaders of these industries, we know first-hand our facilities are dynamic economic drivers in our communities, with vast economic potential that will be unleashed nationwide by making substantial new investments in them. While Congress just approved a new water resources bill (WIIN) and reauthorized surface transportation legislation (FAST Act) last year, and with Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization on the horizon for 2017, funding these programs is the next step in order to achieve the sustained economic growth promised by a modernized infrastructure.

America’s airports generate more than $1.1 trillion in annual activity and support over 9.6 million jobs.  To sustain and grow this economic impact, we need to invest $15 billion per year in airport infrastructure.  Airports need new and innovative ways to fund improvements that renovate tired terminals and runways, relieve congestion and delays, improve safety and security, and spur new airline competition that will lower airfares for consumers.

Seaport activity supports more than 23 million American jobs, accounts for over a quarter of our economy and provides $321 billion annually in tax revenue. Ports and their private-sector partners plan to invest $155 billion into infrastructure by 2020. Funding related infrastructure, including the connections on the land- and water-side of port facilities, is vital to optimize the supply chain and enhance America’s competitiveness.

We urge President-elect Trump and Congress to partner together on a comprehensive infrastructure package that will close the gap on the significant unmet infrastructure needs in and around our airports and seaports. 

Strategic investments in transportation infrastructure will pay back huge dividends in terms of job creation, economic growth and tax revenues.  Additionally, no area of the country nor mode of transportation should be left behind in this process.

President-elect Trump and the new Congress have an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for this and future generations.  By making essential new investments in our transportation infrastructure, we can rebuild our roads, bridges, airports and seaports to truly make America great again!

Burke is President and CEO of Airports Council International – North America and Nagle is President and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.