Repair Bridges, Get Americans Back to Work

Donna Cooper on how rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges is one of the most effective ways to put Americans back to work.

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To address the desperate need for jobs, help lift people from poverty, and meet the needs of keeping our roads, bridges, and transit systems safe, President Barack Obama introduced the American Jobs Act, which would invest $50 billion in critical infrastructure improvements. This proposal mirrors the successful strategy of infrastructure investments made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which invested nearly $50 billion in infrastructure that put as many as three-quarters of a million Americans to work.

The president’s jobs legislation again taps the investment power of the government to stimulate private-sector business growth. Rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges is one of the most effective ways to put Americans back to work. There are approximately 150,000 bridges in America that are either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete,” according to the Federal Highway Administration. At the current rate of investment it will take decades to bring these bridges into a state of good repair.

Instead of waiting for more bridges to fall down we can make the kind of investments that helped make America great and will help put Americans back to work.

There are so many bridges in need of repair, nearly 68,000 in the top 10 states with the most bridges needing work. That works out to 37 unemployed workers per bridge. If work began on just a quarter of these bridges with funds from the American Jobs Act thousands of unemployed construction and skilled trades workers could return to work.

Doing so would go a long way toward reducing the poverty rate in each of these states.

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