Aging Infrastructure

April 19, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 15
Does it jeopardize safety and economic growth?
By Daniel C. Vock


Rebuilding or repairing the nation's extensive networks of highways, transit systems, sewers, power lines, levees and other physical assets has been on Congress' to-do list for years, and the country's infrastructure needs are steadily growing more urgent. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the nation's infrastructure a D+ grade, and many economists worry that crumbling roads and outdated airports are costing consumers and businesses billions of dollars annually in lost time and revenue. In addition, technological innovations, such as self-driving cars, and the intensifying effects of climate change have forced officials to rethink the kinds of infrastructure that communities need to remain vibrant. Both President Trump, a Republican, and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have touted the prospects of passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill. But Democrats favor using federal money to pay for projects, while the president has advocated using federal dollars as seed money to leverage state, local and private funds. As a result, policy experts say an infrastructure deal is unlikely to emerge soon.

A homemade sign warns drivers in Aspen (Getty Images/Robert Alexander)
A homemade sign warns drivers in Aspen, Colo., of trouble ahead. Crumbling roads are just one issue for a transportation infrastructure badly in need of upgrading. Congress and the Trump administration are examining ways to make improvements, but they differ over how to fund them. (Getty Images/Robert Alexander)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Highways and Roads
Apr. 19, 2019  Aging Infrastructure
Sep. 11, 2017  Infrastructure
Jun. 06, 2016  Infrastructure
May 04, 2012  Distracted Driving
Sep. 28, 2007  Aging Infrastructure Updated
Oct. 06, 2000  Drunken Driving
Mar. 12, 1999  Truck Safety
Jul. 14, 1995  Highway Safety
Oct. 09, 1981  Interstate Highway System at Twenty-Five
May 05, 1965  Highway Design and Beautification
Sep. 02, 1960  Progress of the Road Program
Mar. 06, 1957  Billboards and Roadside Controls
Dec. 13, 1954  New Highways
Jul. 25, 1939  Prevention of Highway Accidents
May 13, 1935  Elimination of Highway Grade Crossings
Dec. 24, 1932  Federal Highway Aid and the Depression
Apr. 30, 1931  Billboards and Roadside Improvement
Feb. 14, 1929  Toll Bridges and Toll Roads
Jul. 11, 1927  Ten Years of Federal Aid in Road Building
Air Transportation
Climate Change
Congress Actions
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Economic Development
Electric Power
Motor Traffic and Roads
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Public Transportation
Regional Planning and Urbanization
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations
Travel and Tourism