America’s infrastructure is aging, inefficient and badly in need of a facelift. In fact, it can be compared to a ticking time bomb — and the fuse is nearing its end.
Come September, the federal highway trust fund will run dry, leaving the United States without the ability to repair or improve our nation’s roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure. It’s a deadline that looms large over South Carolina.
South Carolina built and rebuilt itself as an outstanding home for manufacturing, tourism, distribution, trade and transportation — all of which critically depend upon a sound and modern infrastructure. And one way or another, South Carolinians will bear the cost of inaction.
Driving on S.C. roads in need of repair costs motorists $811 million a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — or $255 per motorist. More than 1,000 S.C. bridges are structurally deficient, and 840 are functionally obsolete. S.C. schools have as much as $7.1 billion in infrastructure funding needs.
Infrastructure investments aren’t just about what’s shovel-ready or focused on short-term job creation. They’re about building a financially and environmentally sustainable economy. Already, businesses and communities across the country are making these investments. The government must hold up its end of the bargain.
The United States receives an enormous return on infrastructure investments — from jobs to making communities safer to an enhanced quality of life. Maintaining the status quo on infrastructure investment is not acceptable, and as a first step Congress must renew the highway trust fund.
South Carolina has come a long way since the start of the recession, with unemployment down to 5.5 percent and an economic recovery that is touching nearly every sector. Countless businesses and manufacturers have recognized the state’s business-friendly environment and highly skilled workforce.
But without the proper infrastructure, or the funds to maintain it, South Carolina risks more than aging bridges and deeper potholes. It risks losing the competitive edge that has come to define it.
Chair, S.C. Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Council
Chairman, S.C. Council on Competitiveness