Durable infrastructure drives America’s economy forward
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The Trump administration has signaled that they will begin a campaign emphasizing their goal of aligning American infrastructure with 21st century standards. Historically a bipartisan topic, bolstering our nation’s infrastructure is crucial to the American way of life, and oftentimes serves as an economic boon. To this end, as new building technologies and research yield greater insight into new construction methods, it is critical that the administration prioritizes safety and efficiency going forward.

As Congress considers the logistics involved in carrying out the administration’s ambitious infrastructure initiative, they would be wise to pay considerable mind to building materials. I have worked in construction my entire life, and in my line of work, I have found that foresight and discretion are worth their weight in gold. Because we cannot control time, nor weather, nor natural disaster, the material one chooses in building is as important as the craftsmanship itself. President Trump has proposed a trillion dollar investment over ten years to bolster American infrastructure; any project with such massive expense, and potentially-massive impact, warrants granular analysis.

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Time and scrutiny have revealed concrete to be the gold standard for safe and dependable construction. Concrete does not warp like wood or rust like metal, thereby nullifying the costly issues of humidity and water damage. Unlike wood, concrete does not rot—conversely, it strengthens with age, as the water inside it slowly evaporates. Concrete has long been held as the favored material for storm shelters and structures in fire and earthquake zones.

And, perhaps most importantly, concrete can withstand enormous heat, whereas wood combusts at roughly 375 degrees Fahrenheit (more or less the temperature it takes to bake a loaf of bread). Being that American infrastructure comprises our roads, our bridges, our town halls, the schools where we send our children, we must not settle for “good enough” in choosing building materials; our communities deserve the best.

Not merely superior in durability and safety, concrete also stands alone with regard to value. Modern concrete structures are built to last over two hundred years, making them without rival when viewed as investments. Because concrete is intrinsically stronger than wood or metal, it requires less load-bearing columns, which allows for more retail or living space in concrete structures. And to maintain concrete is, in essence, to let it be; unlike other conventional building materials, concrete requires almost no upkeep. Finally, as a natural insulator, concrete saves 5-8 percent in annual energy costs compared to wood—inherently energy-efficient, concrete is the perfect medium for public institutions, where taxpayers are footing the energy bills.

Being a non-partisan issue, infrastructure should be a priority to the administration. During a time when making progress in Congress sometimes seems a bridge too far, physically rebuilding our country is the good-faith gesture our citizens need. In the past, infrastructure legislation has been effective and straightforward; 2015’s FAST Act, which improved our nation’s transportation systems from a commerce perspective, is an excellent example. By providing certainty, funding for economic progress, and by emphasizing safety, the FAST Act was considered a success on both sides of the aisle. There is no reason to expect that new infrastructure legislation will be any different.

So as our nation looks to the future of American commerce, public welfare, and safety, we must emphasize prudence and pragmatism. Having risen from the last decade’s debilitating recession, we find ourselves in the enviable position to choose our own destiny. The choices we make now regarding America’s infrastructure will directly impact our children and our children’s children, so it is of momentous importance that we choose wisely. Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, is enthusiastic to work hand-in-hand with Congress to educate our legislators on the manifold benefits of building with concrete. And with the proper information, we are confident that our administration will make the right choice for America’s future—to build with concrete, and to build with strength.

Robert Garbini is president of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association


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