There’s Another Way to Pay for Infrastructure Projects

Rather than raising taxes, we can finance bridge and road improvements by packaging and selling data on their usage.

Bloomberg CityLab

By Peter Adriaens

April 7, 2021

It's no secret that the roads, bridges, water and sewer systems that have shaped how our communities developed over the last century are, in too many cases, operating on borrowed time. Infrastructure is — after all — the collective of services that allows a society to function. In its recently released infrastructure report card, the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) counted more than 45,000 of the nation’s bridges as structurally deficient. Despite the poor condition of these overpasses, they carry 178 million trips every day. While our drinking water system has improved in the past few years, there's still a water main break every two minutes somewhere along its 2.2 million miles of pipes. Those are just two examples of the many U.S. infrastructure services that need to be fixed and future-proofed—and urgently. It's promising to hear that President Joe Biden is prioritizing infrastructure with a multi-trillion-dollar plan. To address the nation's infrastructure needs by 2029, ASCE estimates the infrastructure finance gap between needs and available funding at $2.68 trillion across the multiple categories defined in the report card. These include surface transportation, water and stormwater, energy, schools, inland waterways and ports, airports, solid waste management, levees and dams, and broadband, to name a few. If we are going to truly tackle the scale and breadth of these challenges, we have to turn to new financing and funding models.


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