Commentary

Risking the Future (there is a better solution)

Robert Hebert writes today in a NY Time an article entitled Risking the Future He begins with:

I wonder what it will take to get this country serious about repairing and rebuilding its crumbling and increasingly obsolete infrastructure.

He goes on to point to the problems with the New Orlieans Levees and the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse. He also cites the report from the American Society of Engineers report which gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D and said it would require an investment of $2.2 trillion over five years to get it back into decent shape. (Comment: The public sector does not have $2.2 Trillion)

Hebert says:

……. we have infrastructure spending in the Democrats’ proposed stimulus package that, while admirable, is far too meager to have much of an impact on the nation’s overall infrastructure requirements or the demand for the creation of jobs.

Gvoernor Ed Rendell (Pennsylvania) said of the proposed “stimulus” package prior to the inauguration: “Anybody who thinks ââ?¬â?? if the president-elect thinks, or the team thinks ââ?¬â?? that this is the answer to America’s infrastructure needs is in a different universe.” Hebert cites Fleix Rohatyn who was telling him: “A modern economy needs a modern platform, and that’s the infrastructure.” We would submit that the infrastructure needs to be addressed in a NEW way. The “MODERN” way. The traditional “grant” funding is not sufficient and the private sector with billions of dollars ready to invest in US infrastructure is waiting for a signal of “welcome” . The public funds could be leveraged through public private partnerships or concession agreements. Its time to think of new strategies and new ways to bring the private money to the table to leverage the public money and bring the investment needed to infrastructure spending.

Shirley Ybarra is a former senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.