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Monday, December 22, 2014

How to Rebuild our infrastructure

This post summarizes earlier work and lays out a concept for how to rebuild and sustain our infrastructure better.

"We must repair our infrastructure. This is a critical capability that has to be fixed. According to the Society of Engineers We must spend 3.6 Trillion dollars by 2020 to fix our infrastructure to the point where it is minimally serviceable. [see details] This is a security issue more important than Al Qaeda or ISIS as they have nothing to attack if we let our bridges collapse from neglect. And it is a jobs program both in the direct sense that it requires labor to fund, design, build and sustain; and in the direct sense that infrastructure is what enables a civilization and the communication that makes it possible to thrive. The Cons will tell you that their programs are jobs programs but as we've seen most of them represent Jobs in China.
Summary of Demands:
Demand 1: Must invest minimum of 50 billion per year and 250 billion total for infrastructure over next 5 years.
Demand 1a: Should create an Infrastructure Finance Authority to Fund and regulate Infrastructure projects
Demand 1b: Should make Membership in that Finance Authority a State & Local Role to ensure that spending reflects community needs.
Demand 1c: Should create an Infrastructure Trust fund to manage SuperFund monies and other Federal investments in strategic cooperation with EPA and State Branch authorities.

Infrastructure Investment a Critical Need

Repairs Needed
  1. Dams: 21 billion Total needed, 4.2 billion per year over 5 years needed.
  2. Water Infrastructure Safety requires a minimum of 1.25 billion per year total of 7.5 billion $ over 5 years.
  3. "At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. Assuming every pipe would need to be replaced (or at the minimum relined), the cost over the coming decades could reach more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA)."

  4. Environmental Projects Superfund needs a 500 Million Dollar Refresh to meet needs.
  5. Report also talks about roads, rails, and bridges needing repairs. The infrastructure Authority contributes to that.

Infrastructure Finance Authority Critical to Sustainability

We need to make all existing Infrastructure Authorities and states automatic members of the Infrastructure Finance Authority unless they opt out. It costs more to fix a broken system than to sustain it and without both support and oversight from the Federal Government local authorities are liable to engage in poor long term strategy for spending on infrastructure projects. The role of the Federal Government in infrastructure is rightly a General one; advising, guiding, regulating, overseeing and imposing standards. But the role of localities is equally important and the requirements for a functional system require that localities have maximum local authority and accountability; and a say in overall budgeting and allocation through the representation process.

Any infrastructure Authority should have representation for requirements & budgeting in the form of a "legislative advisory body" organized in a bottom up manner to ensure that funding decisions are both representative (through bottom up representation) and strategic, through being vetted up a selection hierarchy and then reviewed by Congress and executive officials before being allocated to branches. Such a body can help keep the body less bureaucratic and also more representative.

Infrastructure Trust Fund

An infrastructure Trust fund is necessary to replace and extend the role currently played by specialized funds such as the Superfund that is being used to clean-up poisonous environments so people and our food supply don't get sick. The advantage of doing this in a Finance Authority associated with the Treasury is that it can be allowed to issue notes and pay bills based on future revenues. And because an Infrastructure Trust fund can be dedicated to projects within a large scale framework that are already needed. Short term appropriations are 2 years usually, but a Trust fund can hold funds authorized in advance for years of sustained efforts. And Such an authority can be made semi-self funding if it is chartered the right way and has the proper Republican features (legislative, access to ordinary courts, and separation of powers).

This is for those who want more details

Sourcees and details:
Engineers Report:
Report Card:
It also builds on some Articles that lay out the challenges:
Bernie Sanders 12 Points:
William Donhoff "Who Rules America:
Common Dreams, The real Reason Cons Win:

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