It’s no secret that our nation’s infrastructure is in desperate need of an overhaul. Generations of stop-gap legislation and half measures have yielded a patchwork system that is now antiquated, crumbling, and ill-equipped for today’s demands.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, it will take an additional $2 trillion in spending over the next 10 years to get America's water systems, roads, bridges, and dams back into shape. Not to drastically improve or build innovative infrastructure, but to simply fix what is broken.
With a price tag in the trillions, Congress has an obligation to the American people to get the most out of every single taxpayer dollar it spends. When it comes to current infrastructure spending, what’s occurring is actually the opposite.
Currently, many municipalities have regulations that significantly restrict the types of materials available to be used for federally funded public works projects. These mandates exemplify the worst parts of the federal government: antiquated policies that stifle innovation, limit competition, and dramatically increase project costs.
The National Taxpayers Union estimates that opening up competition for construction materials could save more than $371 billion on water infrastructure alone. In the face of such a daunting challenge, we must harness the power of competition so we can do more with less. That is why we introduced the Sustainable Municipal Access to Resilient Technology in Infrastructure, or SMART Infrastructure, Act, which will push America's infrastructure into the 21st century while saving taxpayer dollars.
Not only would our bipartisan legislation save the United States money, it would also support a more transparent bidding process and an increase in sustainable, innovative, and quality solutions while preserving flexibility for states and localities to select materials that best meet the needs of a particular project.
The SMART Infrastructure Act is capitalism at work – drawing inspiration from our nation's emphasis on free competition. This legislation empowers engineers and architects by allowing them to choose from a full spectrum of safe building materials and components through an open bidding process.
The legislation will allow project engineers to select the best option for their project, saving state, local, and federal taxpayers billions of dollars – regardless of what specific material is selected. On water infrastructure projects alone, taxpayers can save 30 percent on material costs when open competition is utilized. On a national scale, that's a savings of more than $1,100 for every man, woman, and child.
Architects and engineers certainly know better than big government when it comes to selecting and procuring construction materials. They also know they are in a much better position when regulations prevent material suppliers from competing for their business.
It’s time to remove protectionist policies and unleash the competitive spirit that drives a thriving marketplace – our water systems, roads, bridges, dams, and pocketbooks will be better for it.
Harley RoudaHarley Edwin RoudaOvernight Energy & Environment — California lawmakers clash over oil spill California Democrats blast offshore drilling in oil spill's wake 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection MORE represents California’s 48th District and Brian Babin represents the 36th District of Texas. Both serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.