August 01, 2007

Dodd, Hagel Introduce Bill to Revitalize America’s Infrastructure

Bill Would Help Make Roads, Bridges, Transit Systems, and Water Safer and Spur Economic Growth

Washington, D.C. – Responding to a looming crisis that jeopardizes the prosperity and quality of life of all Americans, Senators Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., today introduced a measure to revitalize, repair, and replace America’s aging and crumbling roads, bridges, transit systems, and water treatment facilities. Two dramatic headlines in recent weeks have highlighted the escalating problem. Two weeks ago, an 83-year-old steam pipe burst in midtown Manhattan, releasing asbestos laden particles and causing widespread damage. Media reports have also recently questioned whether contaminated drinking water near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, may have exposed families in the area to high levels of dangerous chemicals. “The 21st century holds great promise for our nation. But you can’t journey to a brighter tomorrow by relying on yesterday’s infrastructure,” said Dodd. “This measure can help rebuild our roads, bridges, transit and water systems, improve our quality of life, and spur jobs and economic growth. By investing today, we can minimize costs down the road and provide a brighter, more secure future for all Americans.” “The current infrastructure in our country is wholly inadequate to handle the demands of a 21st Century economy. We see our ports backed-up by expanding international trade, our rails overloaded by our increasing energy demands and our highways hopelessly clogged by traffic. We run the risk of being left behind by our international competitors if we do not begin to modernize our national infrastructure. It will require a huge financial commitment to modernize our national infrastructure. The legislation we are introducing establishes a new system through which the federal government can finance infrastructure projects by leveraging private and public capital to fund large projects that are vital to our country. This legislation provides a new model for prioritizing the building and maintenance of our national infrastructure,” Hagel said. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the current condition of our nation’s major infrastructure system earns a grade point average of D. The average age of drinking water and wastewater systems range in age from 50 to 100 years in age. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the average traveler is delayed 51.5 hours in the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas. The delays range from 93 hours in Los Angeles to 14 hours in Pittsburgh. Combined these delays waste 1.78 billion gallons of fuel each year and waste almost $50.3 billion in congestion costs. The bill, the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2007, would streamline the process by which national infrastructure projects are targeted. It would create an independent national bank that would identify, evaluate and help finance infrastructure projects of substantial regional and national significance. Infrastructure projects under the Bank’s jurisdiction would include publicly-owned mass transit systems, roads, bridges, drinking water and wastewater systems, and housing properties. The Dodd-Hagel legislation follows two reports released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in 2005 and 2006 that highlighted the urgent need for a national plan and investments to improve infrastructure needs across the nation. Felix G. Rohatyn and Senator Warren Rudman were Co-Chairmen of the CSIS Commission on Public Infrastructure. “Senators Dodd and Hagel do a great service to our country by introducing the National Infrastructure Bank Act,” said Rohatyn and Rudman. “This bipartisan legislation can reverse decades of shortchanging our public infrastructure. By investing in our future, it will increase our national productivity and improve our standard of living.” "Last year, Senators Dodd and Hagel signed on to a set of 'Guiding Principles for Strengthening America’s Infrastructure' developed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Public Infrastructure," said CSIS President and CEO John Hamre. "These principles were established to recommend changes to rebuild America's decaying infrastructure. CSIS is proud to have helped stimulate this important initiative. The leadership of Senators Dodd and Hagel on this crucial issue will now will help the nation ensure future productivity and growth for our economy." A summary of the legislation and a list of supporters are attached.