America was built on the spirit of pioneering, entrepreneurialism, and innovation. Decades ago, these trailblazers created an unparalleled system of highways, mass transit, ports, railroads and waterways. They moved people and goods from New York to Miami, created jobs and new cities, and allowed commerce and industries to grow across the United States. Today, that infrastructure has outlived its useful life and become unsafe, unusable, and inefficient. Yet the resources seem elusive to solve such a glaring problem.
Our daily lives, communities and economy depend on functioning infrastructure. But too often, it is not until these critical arteries rupture that we pay attention. Infrastructure demands long-term planning and investment. We have to look beyond the ribbon cuttings and make investment decisions based on the full life cycles and sustainability of infrastructure projects—from planning and construction to operations and maintenance.
Our country’s degraded infrastructure, sorely in need of repair and new investment, coupled with other necessary competing pressures on public budgets, creates a perfect storm. With limited resources, immediate maintenance needs have often been the primary focus. However, in discounting the life cycle costs inherent in any project and the mounting risks of unsafe infrastructure, new investments fail to be made.