The Cost of Re-Directing Infrastructure FundingOctober 2nd, 2016 Author: Doug Thaler
Even if 100% of the states budgets earmarked went where they were supposed to, The federal transportation program currently only provides a fraction of the monies needed for maintenance and repairs. Although lately a number of states are making the repair of existing assets a priority, more federal government support is essential. Not only are the nation’s bridges past their initial life expectancy, traffic demands are increasing, even as state and local budgets and revenues are shrinking. it is interesting to note that the Federal budget increased 18% between 2006 & 2009. The states needs over the same time period increased over 47%. As we delay repairs, the repairs themselves will become more expensive.
After over a dozen years of focusing on aggressive new highway projects the standard maintenance bills have been piling up at an increasing pace. You would think that the ageing of bridges alone makes a logical case for the federal government to not only allocate a much larger share of funds to rebuild the existing system but be sure that policy requires funding to be directed where it is intended. Public safety is at issue.
For the past twenty years a special bridge repair program has been under way at the federal level, but the shortcomings and the growth of ageing bridges has crushed its success.
INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIR NEEDS ARE GROWING FASTER THAN THE FUNDING
Congress developed and launched the Federal Highway Bridge Program to fix and replace deficient bridges throughout the country and current funding is certainly not sufficient enough to keep up with the deterioration. While appropriations have soured to six hundred fifty million dollars bridge needs over the same period have increased to almost twenty three billion.
By the end of the last decade nearly one third or 200,000 of the nations 600,000+/- highway bridges were over 50 years old. By the year 2030 that number could be twice as much without substantial bridge replacement. When built these bridges had an estimated life span of between 50 and 60 years so it makes sense that over the next 15years almost half or the nations 600,000 bridges will require a major investment into structural repairs.
Infrastructure is a key component in the success of any economy. They provide crucial access between regions, help our workers get to their jobs, transfer goods to market and our manufacturing to ports. In a report by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), transportation agencies would need over $70 billion dollars to catch up with repairs to the backlog of currently deficient repairs. The investment in our nations bridges would be well spent to keep our economy booming, our workers on time to their jobs and trucks to deliver their goods and ports.
By allowing roads and bridges to fall into a state of disrepair ends up costing states and local governments billions more than the cost of regular maintenance and repair. According to the Federal Highway Administration, FHWA, over a twenty five year period putting off the maintenance and repair of bridges and highways can cost three times more than if repairs were made in a more time efficient manner. In addition, the delay and backlog increases the safety risks to the public, creates what would have been unnecessary emergency repairs and slows economic prosperity. By modernizing inspection methods and making repairs in a more timely manner a bridge or roads service life can be extended for an additional 20 years or longer, saving millions in replacement costs, making it easier to budget for and schedule repairs. Even repair work generates many more jobs than construction of new bridges and roads.
Congress has declared the that the infrastructure and safety of our bridges is of national significance. Currently the federal program does not ensure that the transportation agencies have enough money or accountability at this time to get the job done.
Infrastructure Preservation Corporation is a professional services non destructive bridge inspection company that has created robotic nondestructive inspection robots to more efficiently inspection our bridges and infrastructure. No lane closures or bucket trucks with much more quantitative data that makes it easier for asset managers to budget repairs. For more information contact [email protected]