aging infrastructure

You’re Already Paying for America’s Aging Infrastructure

By Tanya Svoboda
December 2019

Anyone that’s lived in an older home understands that there is rarely such a thing as an easy home upgrade. Knock out a wall and you may be confronted with a tangled electrical system made out of cloth wires sitting on top of horsehair insulation. You can plaster the wall back up, but you’ll always know what’s lurking underneath will require attention at some point. America’s infrastructure has become like an old home in need of a deeper renovation. Its roads may be freshly paved, but underneath the new asphalt are 100-year-old water mains that could fail at any time.

Our aging infrastructure is in dire need of an overhaul and requires an immense amount of federal funding to do so. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes an Infrastructure Report Card every four years – and we’ve received a D+ grade in the last two reports. ASCE’s infrastructure report believes that the US requires $4.5 trillion in order to repair the condition of our roads, bridges, dams, airports, schools, and more. That’s not small change.

President Donald Trump did announce a $200 billion-dollar infrastructure plan this past February. However, during a November rally in Ohio, he stated that the plan would “probably have to wait until after the election” before it was revisited. In the meantime, lawmakers continue to push through infrastructure related legislation like the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA), a water resource bill that funds the upkeep of dams, reservoirs and waterways, but a more comprehensive plan is sorely needed.

Homeowner advocates like The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recognize the impact that a failing infrastructure will have on our quality of life and property values – and have made supporting infrastructure reform a priority in 2019. They are asking current and future homeowners to lend their voice by reaching out to Congress on the issue.

Below are a few ways you may already be feeling the consequences of our aging infrastructure during your daily commute.

You’re paying more for car repairs and gas

If you drive to work, you may have noticed that your car’s suspension system has been taking a beating. Business Insider reports that “Roads in the US are in bad shape. About 32% of urban roads and 14% of rural roads are in poor condition.” Drivers are also spending more money filling up their gas tanks. That’s because driving over bumpy, crumbling roads translates to about $160 billion in wasted fuel.

The bridges you may drive over during your morning commute need attention too. ASCE’s infrastructure report states that of the 614,387 bridges that are in the US, 200,000 are greater than 50 years old. There’s presently a $836 billion backlog of funding needed to fix the highways and bridges in the US, according to a report by the US Department of Transportation.

Your commute to work has become harder

Does it feel like it’s taking longer to get to work because of bus or train breakdowns and derailments? The ASCE reports that our public transportation is so underfunded that it would cost $90 billion just to fix the backlog of repairs. That number will climb to $122 million by 2032, if we plan to make the necessary upgrades and expansions.

Wage earning riders who have to wait long periods between transit connections can experience a loss of income because their availability is limited by the extended commute. In areas that don’t have access to public transportation – home values are lower, job opportunities decrease and residents pay more out of pocket for their commute. NAR reports, “Residents of transit-oriented neighborhoods have greater access to jobs via transit; own fewer cars; and live in dense, walkable areas, resulting in lower transportation costs.”

Roadways, bridges and public transportation are just a few pieces of a larger infrastructure crisis. These may be the areas where we first feel the need for greater funding, but there is more at stake. The aging wastewater treatment plants we depend on for clean water and the schools our children attend are also in need of significant overhauls.

Learn more about infrastructure by reading the article, “What Exactly Is Infrastructure and Why Is It Important to Homeowners?


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