The American Society of Civil Engineers call for national freight policy
September 17, 2012
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unveiled a new economic study late last week which makes a compelling argument for seaport investment.
The fourth report in ASCE’s Failure to Act series quantifies the macro costs to the economy of unmet investment needs in America’s waterborne and airport infrastructure – including job losses, impacts on GDP, U.S. exports, household budgets and personal incomes. It also projects the level of investment needed by 2020 to circumvent these consequences.
Jerry Bridges, executive director, Virginia Port Authority, noted in panel discussion convened by ASCE, that 99 percent of U.S. trade is waterborne.
“But without a national freight policy, our ports are in danger of underperforming,” he said.
Aging infrastructure for marine ports, inland waterways, and airports threatens more than 1 million U.S. jobs according to ASCE. Between now and 2020, investment needs in the nation’s marine ports and inland waterways sector total $30 billion, while planned expenditures are about $14 billion, leaving a total investment gap of nearly $16 billion.
Similarly, with airports, between now and 2020 there is an investment need of about $114 billion, while anticipated spending is $95 billion, leaving a gap of nearly $19 billion, as well as an additional need of about $20 billion to implement NextGen. The report concludes that unless America’s infrastructure investment gaps are filled, transporting goods will become costlier, prices will rise, and the United States will become less competitive in the global market. As a result, employment, personal income, and GDP will all fall due to inaction.
“Congestion and delays lead to goods waiting on docks and in warehouses for shipment, which in turn leads to higher transportation costs and higher-priced products on store shelves,” said Andrew W. Herrmann, P.E., president of ASCE. “If we don’t close the investment gaps, everyone is going to feel the negative impacts because we are on course to lose more than one million jobs and more than $1 trillion in personal income by 2020.”
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