Hundreds of infrastructure projects across the nation ready to be built and awaiting federal funding could help put many people back to work, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, which released a map July 29 highlighting some of those projects.
“At a time when people are confined to their homes, need jobs and with low interest rates for project funding, we have an opportunity to fast-track construction, but America is stuck until Congress acts,” said ASCE President K.N. Gunalan in a statement.
The map highlights about 50 sites where work could be completed if Congress were to pass a comprehensive infrastructure package, which ASCE is asking Congress to do.
The National League of Cities found 65% of cities have had to delay or cancel capital projects because of plummeting gas tax and other revenue, according to ASCE.
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association says at least $9 billion worth of transportation projects have been shelved. ASCE says that COVID-19 is making the nation's maintenance backlog of at least $2 trillion even worse.
Despite repeated requests from groups including ASCE, ARTBA and the Associated General Contractors of America, Congress has yet to approve significant infrastructure funding in its COVID-19 related recovery legislation.
In May, the House approved a $3-trillion recovery package that contained more than $900 million for state and local governments. On July 27, Senate Republicans introduced their own recovery package, which does not contain a similar state and local funding provision or any significant money for construction.
Some of the projects highlighted on the ASCE map include $123 million in multimodal freight projects in Louisiana; $58 million in dam improvement projects in Ohio; and more than $398 million in clean water projects in Washington state.
“It is always easier to make a successful case for investing in infrastructure when discussing specific projects,” Brian Turmail, vice president of public affairs for AGC, told ENR by email.
Turmail said: “Most Americans don’t get excited about the general notion of improving infrastructure. But every one of them has a particular piece of infrastructure, whether a congested stretch of highway, a failing water system or other piece of infrastructure they are aware of, worry about and would love to see improved."
He added, "So having a list of ready-to-go projects is absolutely essential to turning an abstract conversation into one that is real, meaningful and, hopefully, successful.”