Public infrastructure: Buy now or pay later

Last week, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform issued a report providing recommendations for reducing the federal deficit. One of the proposals from this report was a recommendation to adjust the gas tax. No one likes to see an increase in user fees, but consider the following.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the nation’s roads, drinking-water systems and other public works rank a barely passing grade of “D” and require a $2.2 trillion, five-year investment.

At the current rate of population growth, it is expected that North Carolina will be the eighth most populous state in the country by 2015. As North Carolina continues to grow, so will the demand on public infrastructure.

The gas tax has not been adjusted since 1993, losing one-third of its purchasing power over the last 17 years. Meanwhile, maintenance and new construction demands have greatly increased.

Congress must focus on improving our transportation infrastructure. We must stop asking whether or not we can afford to invest in America’s infrastructure and ask ourselves how we can afford not to.

— Jesse R. Jacobson
American Society of Civil Engineers
Asheville

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