First I thought it was $225 Billion for the whole program. But the New York Times, experts in all subjects, claims we will need $225 Billion per year for FIFTY YEARS to fix America's infrastructure. Man, they must have a lot of money in New York! Now I know we need some improvements---especially after truck traffic from international trade caused the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis. But just as it has in the past, such high levels of spending can only have a result that the NYT seems to be fond of----new opportunities for illegal immigrants!

Before Another Bridge Falls

Published: February 23, 2008
Nearly seven months after a highway bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, a federal commission put a jaw-dropping price tag on starting to attend to America’s crumbling foundations: $225 billion a year for the next 50 years just to maintain and upgrade surface transportation.

That report, like the bridge collapse, should have sparked a serious policy debate everywhere people rely on bridges, roads and transit systems — which is everywhere. It hasn’t, and that makes taking on this critical work of national repair even tougher.

Of the presidential candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have plans for repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — but no persuasive explanation for how they would pay for it. Mr. Obama would use money saved from ending the Iraq war; Mrs. Clinton would apply savings from more efficient government.

The federal panel called for paying for a large part of the bill with an increase in the federal gas tax of 25 cents to 40 cents over five years. So far no candidate has had the courage to suggest that.

The next president will have to show a lot more leadership if there is any hope of reversing the damage from decades of underfunding and inattention. Washington invests less than $90 billion a year on surface transportation. That means states and cities have to pick up more of the burden, and more expensive projects go unfunded.

Ensuring safe and dependable roads, bridges and transportation systems, as well as water systems, sewage treatment plants, dams and even schools also requires long-term planning. Unfortunately most politicians prefer quick fixes.

Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, has been pushing for a real national infrastructure plan, and he has a good hook. He reminds anyone who will listen that President Thomas Jefferson’s administration wrote America’s first national development plan — calling for building roads and canals — in 1808. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt charted a second plan, which foresaw the need to invest in electrical generation.

Another hundred years later, the country is overdue for a new plan, one fitted for the times. In addition to repairing roads and power grids, it will have to encourage the development of alternative energy and find ways to secure critical sites against potential acts of terrorism.

Members of Congress need to listen to what the federal commission and Mr. Blumenauer are saying. The country cannot wait for another bridge to fall.