The shovel-ready infrastructure program, inspired by the need to create jobs after the Wall Street melt down, doesn’t seem to have been much of a success, at least the headlines aren’t blaring accomplishments.
What the headlines are grumbling about is aging and rotting infrastructure.
“We used to be so much smarter about this stuff,” says Bob Herbert, in his NY Times column What the future may hold. A recent publication from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution reminds us that:
Since the beginning of our republic, transportation and infrastructure have played a central role in advancing the American economy — from the canals of upstate New York to the railroads that linked the heartland to industrial centers and finally the interstate highway system that ultimately connected all regions of the nation.
In each of those periods, there was a sharp focus on how infrastructure investments could be used as catalysts for economic expansion and evolution.”
Policy makers all but gave up on that kind of thinking years ago. America’s infrastructure, once the finest in the world, has been neglected for decades, and it shows. Felix Rohatyn’s book on the subject, “Bold Endeavors,” opens with: “The nation is falling apart — literally.”
“It’s almost as if we no longer understand the crucial links between infrastructure and the health of the American economy, the state of the environment and the viability of the nation as a whole,” says Herbert. “We’ve become stupid about this.”