OPINION: Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure

OPINION: Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure

As a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus Infrastructure Working Group, I am pleased to share with you news that our bipartisan report, Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure, was released last week. This report, endorsed by 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans, is the result of months of hard work with more than 100 organizations representing labor, small business, engineers, manufacturers, and local leaders throughout the country. It includes principles for restoring America’s vast network of transportation, water, energy, and broadband infrastructure.

Like many of you, I can remember a time when America was not afraid of doing big things. Like millions of Americans, I have stood in awe and wonder of the marvels of engineering we’ve constructed throughout our history. We have spanned massive rivers, electrified rural villages, dammed raging waters, connected cities thousands of miles apart with highways, and moved information faster than humans ever imagined possible. Anyone who has ever stood before the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, or a NASA launch pad knows we have accomplished astounding feats as a nation.

But when we talk about our infrastructure now, too often we reflect on a proud past as though we can never do big things again. Our parents and grandparents turned gravel roads into paved roads, and today we risk allowing paved roads to turn back into gravel ones. Our parents and grandparents put jet planes into the sky and built airports that were the envy of the world, and yet today we’ve allowed them sink into a state of embarrassing disrepair. Our parents and grandparents dared to invest, even when the economy struggled, but today we risk leaving our children a tab of $2 trillion in deferred maintenance. Generations of Americans did this. Our country’s greatest leaders — whether with Lincoln’s land-grant colleges, Roosevelt’s New Deal, or Eisenhower’s creation of the interstate highway system — made the decision to invest in greatness.

We can’t run a 21st century economy on a 20th century infrastructure. Our plan is more important now than ever, as we’ve received the news that Connecticut is placing over $4 billion in transportation projects on indefinite hold. Projects from the I-84 "mix-master" in Waterbury to road repairs to Cooper Street over Harbor Brook in Meriden and projects throughout the Fifth Congressional District are in jeopardy. In short, we can’t afford to wait.

I believe that we can do great things once again if we just work together. I am proud to lead the bipartisan effort to fix our country’s broken infrastructure and put people back to work. The principles laid forth in Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure, demonstrate to the American people that our drive to do big things and to inspire the next generation is still alive and well here in Congress.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty represents Connecticut’s5th District.


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