The time is at hand when the construction industry must stand up and make its case for infrastructure projects to be an important part of any economic stimulus plan. There will be stiff money competition from other industries ranging from steel to auto manufacturing, but few can match construction’s quick startup of projects already in the pipeline, its speedy ramp-up of employment in a highly mobile workforce and its resulting economic benefits.
There are grave doubts about the effectiveness of any stimulus package, so the scrutiny moving forward should be tough. Some economists say the tax-rebate checks early last year from the $152-billion Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 had virtually no effect on the economy. And it still is a mystery where Uncle Sam invested $2 trillion under the bailout packages late last year. But there is no doubt that quality public-works projects can pay economic and quality-of-life dividends for generations.