Let’s take a look at the state of our aging infrastructure:
Beneath most major cities, our current water and sewer distribution systems are from 50 to 150 years old—mostly beyond their design life and in need of replacement. The old systems are leaking an estimated 20 to 25% of our public water every year. Washington D.C. alone sees an average of 400 to 500 water main breaks per year, and an estimated 240,000 water main breaks occur every year in the U.S. The EPA estimates that upgrading the public water system will require $335 billion over 20 years, and upgrading the sewer systems will require $298 billion over 20 years.
According to the Society of Civil Engineers, more than 9% of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient. There have been 600 bridge failures in the U.S. since 1989, several of them deadly. The federal government estimates the cost of a backlog of planned bridge rehabilitation projects at $123 billion per year.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says that over two thirds of our roads are in “dire need of repair and upgrades.” Traffic jams and congestion cost commuters 4.2 billion hours and about 2.8 million gallons of gasoline per year. In the past, we relied mostly on the Highway Trust Fund—which supplies 80% of highway funds—but the highway fund is running out of money. The gas tax has not been increased since 1973 and since 2008, the trust fund has spent $103 billion more than it has collected. Spending in 2018 alone is expected to exceed revenues by $9 billion.
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