Infrastructure Bank Would Provide Loans and Loan Guarantees for Large Infrastructure Projects—Bolstering Commerce, Increasing Private Investment, and Supporting Exports
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of a new report showing that Cleveland, Akron, and Youngstown have the highest concentration of structurally deficient bridges in the state, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his call for the passage of a bill he’s authored that would address our nation’s infrastructure deficit, provide for the repair of critical projects, and put Ohioans back to work. The report from Transportation for America titled, The Fix We’re In For: The State of Our Metro-Area Bridges, ranks 102 metro areas in three population categories based on the percentage of “structurally deficient” bridges.
“Ohio has a disproportionate number of bridges that are in immediate need of repair. There is no room for excuses or inaction,” Brown said. “That’s why we need to put the partisan bickering aside and pass my bill to create a National Infrastructure Bank. This bill would address the urgent need to repair Ohio’s bridges while creating jobs and promoting long-term economic development in our state.”
The report found that Youngstown had the highest percentage of the state’s deficient bridges (18.9 percent), followed by Akron (12.7 percent), Cleveland (11.4 percent), Columbus (11.1 percent), Dayton (11 percent) and Toledo (10.9 percent). The only city faring well is Cincinnati, coming well under the nation’s average with 7 percent.
“There are more deficient bridges in our cities than there are McDonald’s restaurants in the entire country,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. That is 18,239 bridges versus roughly 14,000 McDonald’s. “These urban bridges are most costly and difficult to fix, but they also are the most urgent, because they carry such a high volume of people and goods.”
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that the backlog of potentially dangerous bridges would cost $70.9 billion to eliminate, while the federal outlay for bridges amounts to only $5 billion per year.
In August 2011, in front of the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, Brown outlined a bill that would create a national infrastructure bank to provide loans and loan guarantees for critical infrastructure projects of national and regional importance that create and protect jobs, increase economic competitiveness, bolster exports, and encourage private investment—like the Brent Spence Bridge.
In September, during an address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama highlighted the Brent Spence Bridge and called on Congress to pass legislation similar to Brown’s infrastructure bank bill.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, for every $1 billion spent on highway and bridge construction, nearly 35,000 jobs are created. These include direct jobs involved in the construction of infrastructure projects, indirect jobs created by the purchase of supplies for projects, and induced jobs supported by new consumer spending when Americans go back to work. Additionally, infrastructure investments – including transportation improvements and ensuring clean, affordable water – help attract economic development. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, failing infrastructure could cost the U.S. $2.7 trillion—or $129 billion a year— in lost productivity and lost income in trade in the coming decades.
Specifically, the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2011 would:
- Provide low-interest loans, loan guarantees, and loan forgiveness for projects unable to obtain full financing on the private market or from local funding.
- Establish an independent entity to rate and select important projects that would achieve specific national goals of job creation, economic growth, or increased competiveness.
- Encourage increased investment from the private sector in our nation’s infrastructure.
- Create good-paying, middle-class jobs by bolstering the construction industry including workers, suppliers, and domestic manufacturers.
- Reduce the backlog in construction projects by freeing up additional funds from existing infrastructure programs to fund additional projects at the state and local level.