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US civils identify $846bn spending shortfall

28 Jul 11 The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is calling for an additional investment of US$846bn (£516bn) in transport improvements by 2020.

ASCE has released a report on how the US economy will fare if improvements are not funded and costed the amount of work needed. The report estimates that in order to bring the USA’s surface transportation infrastructure up to tolerable levels, policymakers would need to invest approximately US$1.7 trillion between now and 2020 in highway and transit systems.  The USA is currently on track to spend a portion of that - US$877 billion - during the same timeframe. The infrastructure funding gap equals US$846 billion over nine years or US$94 billion per year, according to the report, 'Failure to act - the economic impact of current investment trends in surface transportation infrastructure'.

The USA’s deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost its economy more than 870,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country’s gross domestic product by US$3.1 trillion (£1.9 trillion) by 2020, according to the new report.

The report, conducted by the Economic Development Research Group of Boston, showed that in 2010, deficiencies in roads, bridges, and transit systems cost American households and businesses more than US$129bn, including approximately US$97bn in vehicle operating costs, US$32bn in delays in travel time, US$1.2bn in safety costs, and US$590m in environmental costs.

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If investments in surface transportation infrastructure are not made soon, those costs are expected to grow exponentially. Within 10 years, US businesses would pay an added US$430bn in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than US$7,000, and exports would fall by US$28bn.

"Clearly, failing to invest in our roads, bridges and transit systems has a dramatic negative impact on America’s economy," said ASCE president Kathy Caldwell. "The link between a nation’s infrastructure and its economic competitiveness has always been understood.  But today, for the first time, we have data showing how much failing to invest in our surface transportation system can negatively impact job growth and family budgets. This report is a wake-up call for policymakers because it shows that investing in infrastructure contributes to creating jobs, while failing to do so hurts main street America."

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