The coronavirus pandemic is worsening the problem of infrastructure underinvestment, and the main solution is to increase federal spending in that area, says a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

COVID-19’s Impacts on America’s Infrastructure is a current status report on the pandemic’s detrimental effects on the nation’s critical, yet aging and underinvested infrastructure, including airports, bridges, dams, ports, roads, transit, and water supply.

Analysis of the 14-page report by the Southern California Partnership for Jobs notes that the pandemic has resulted in a falloff in a variety of usergenerated revenue sources that support infrastructure, such as gas taxes and other transportation fees, transit receipts and airport income — and offers solutions for Congress to consider in both its shortterm emergency response and longer-range economic recovery strategy.

Congress should make infrastructure investment a centerpiece of its immediate response and long-term economic recovery strategy. Now is the time to renew, modernize, and invest in our infrastructure to maintain our international competitiveness. — ASCE 

 

IMPACTS– The report details the numerous impacts of COVID-19, including:

  • A 49% drop in revenue from the federal Highway Trust Fund in May 2020 compared to May 2019
  • A projected 30% revenue decline in the next 18 months for the nation’s state Departments of Transportation (DOTs)
  • An estimated $23.3 billion loss in airport revenue due to a 95% decline in domestic air travel
  • An estimated decline of 20 to 30% in total annual receipts at ports
  • Dramatic nationwide ridership declines in transit systems, such as a 55% decrease in ridership on LAMetro
  • Approximately 17% loss in annualized revenue in the drinking water sector, including losses related to suspending water service disconnections 

 

SOLUTIONS – Noting that it is “encouraged” that many of these recommendations are included in H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, ASCE urges Congress to: 

Pass a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization, that addresses the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, before the authorization expires on September 30th, 2020

Provide $50 billion in immediate, short-term relief for the nation’s state DOTs to ensure that bridges, roads, and transit systems remain safe, reliable, and ready for Americans to resume pre-pandemic routines

Provide an extra $10 billion in relief to mitigate the pandemic’s growing impacts on the nation’s airports, in addition to the $10 billion provided in the CARES Act 

Provide $1.5 billion to support operations and capital costs at our nation’s seaports, and appropriate $1 billion in supplemental funding for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program

Fully fund the High Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation Program at the authorized amount of $60 million for 2021 and pass the Dam Safety Improvement Act 

Include federal drinking water and wastewater assistance for ratepayers and provide water agencies with economic relief to combat revenue losses, and allocate an additional $300 million per year in grants for the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds

Include the Rebuild America’s School Infrastructure Act in future economic relief packages to create a $70 billion grant program and $30 billion tax credit bond targeted at schools in economically disadvantaged communities.