July 27, 2011

Report: America’s Crumbling Infrastructure to Cost Economy 877,000 High-Skill Jobs

—Rahall Says Report Highlights Urgency for Robust Surface Transportation Reauthorization—

Washington, D.C.– Citing a first-ever report released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) that found America’s crumbling surface transportation infrastructure will cost the economy more than 877,000 jobs, U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, renewed calls for Congress to craft a robust surface transportation bill that provides the investments necessary to tackle the well documented backlog of highway, bridge, and transit infrastructure needs.

“While Republicans may hope that if they simply say we are going to “do more with less” enough times it will magically make it so, today’s report provides the cold hard truth that America’s economic recovery and long-term competitiveness will suffer if we continue to under invest  in our future,” said Rahall.  “The report paints a disturbing picture of how America’s small businesses and middle class family incomes will be affected by our Nation’s deteriorating surface transportation systems. Slashing investments by one third, as Republicans have proposed to do, will make the economic impact on America’s middle class even worse than the grim predictions by the economists in this report.”

The report finds that a failure to increase investment in surface transportation over the next ten years will have significant economic implications for the U.S. economy, resulting in U.S. businesses paying an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes falling by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports falling by $28 billion.

“There is no doubt we need to tighten our budgetary belt and learn to live within our means, but this report is proof positive that the cost of not addressing this impending catastrophe is simply too high,” said Rahall.  “Instead of making robust investments in America’s future and strengthening our position in the worldwide economy, slashing investments in transportation infrastructure is shortsighted and will have a negative impact on the pocketbooks of American families.”

Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this month unveiled a six-year Federal highway and transit reauthorization proposal that represents a 33% reduction from current funding levels.  The dramatic cuts proposed to surface transportation programs will destroy over 600,000 American jobs next year alone, undermine our Nation’s long-term economic competitiveness, and jeopardize our economic recovery.

“By cutting $109 billion in surface transportation investment, the Republican proposal ignores another deficit just as critical to America’s future – the infrastructure deficit,” said Rahall.  “While our international competitors are moving forward, the Republican bill would put American businesses at a disadvantage with companies around the world.  America can continue to lead the worldwide economy and win the future, but we must be willing to invest in a transportation system fit for the 21st century just as our competitor nations are investing in their own futures.  They are not waiting; we must not wait any longer.”