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Rep. Balderson Op-Ed: It's Time to Invest in Our Nation's Infrastructure

Washington, D.C., May 12, 2019 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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Newark (OH) Advocate

Balderson: It's time to invest in our nation's infrastructure

Rep. Troy Balderson, Guest Columnist

May 12, 2019

Turn on the evening news, and you’re likely to see a story about Washington gridlock. I, too, was wary of this problem before being sworn into Congress last year. After a few months in office, however, it’s become increasingly clear that there are far more things that Americans agree on than divide us.

While you may not hear about it every day, there are several issues that bring together people from all geographic regions, backgrounds, and political parties. For example, most Americans agree that we need to invest our country’s resources into improving its infrastructure.

In recent months, we’ve heard Governor DeWine, state legislators, both Democratic and Republican congressional leadership, and the administration all emphasize a need for investment in infrastructure. This remains a top priority for our country’s lawmakers, which is great news for Americans.

On average, we waste a year of our lives sitting in traffic. This is the real gridlock for Americans in our everyday lives, and illustrates why improvement in infrastructure is both necessary and urgent.

This year, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which I’m a member, is tasked with passing an infrastructure package and reauthorizing several bills, such as a water resources development bill and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s pipeline safety programs reauthorization. These will require us to roll up our sleeves, reach across the aisle, and work together to develop real, long-term solutions. It will take a lot of work, but it’s what needs to be done.

First on this agenda will be addressing how to mend, modernize, and fortify our surface transportation, such as repairing our crumbling roads, bridges, and highways. This will mean improved safety for Americans and their families, who rely on our roads to securely and efficiently transport them each day.

We also need to improve airport infrastructure and modernize our airspace to promote safety in the skies. When we fly, the last thing any of us wants is an inconvenience that prevents us from reaching our destination safely and on-time. When we upgrade our runways and taxiways and ensure our air traffic controllers have access to quality tools and technology, we propel our country into the future of transportation.

Finally, we need to find a solution to ensure the Highway Trust Fund’s solvency. Each time you fill up at the pump, a small amount of the cost goes toward this fund, which is used to upgrade our roads and bridges. In other words, those who use the roads help improve the roads. With today’s fuel efficiency advancements, much less money is paid into this fund each year. This means we must find a way to bolster the fund and ensure the safety and efficiency of our surface transportation for all who use it, while being prudent with taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Investment in infrastructure doesn’t only directly benefit those who use it. Upgrades to infrastructure leads to jobs for Americans – such as in the construction, trade, and manufacturing industries – to name a few. This, in turn, boosts our nation’s economy and helps businesses transport their goods and services. A win for infrastructure is a win for America.

There are plenty of ideas for how to improve and invest in our nation’s infrastructure network. In this major undertaking, we can’t cut corners – we need to get this done the right way, so these improvements have a lasting impact for generations to come.

While the topic of infrastructure may not rise to the airwaves regularly, this is something we can all be united on. My colleagues and I agree that now is the time to invest in our infrastructure, for its longevity, for our economy, and to better the lives of all Americans. With a seat at the table, I’m optimistic and focused on the future.

Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, represents Ohio's District 12, which includes Licking, Delaware and Morrow counties, as well as parts of Richland, Marion, Franklin and Muskingum counties.