Mention the word “infrastructure” and you'll likely see eyes glaze over. However, Americans expect the lights to go on, for clean water to come from the tap and to reliably get from point A to point B. Well-functioning infrastructure is at the core of modern daily life.
Investments in infrastructure haven't kept pace with the demands of our 21st-century economy. In fact, federal investments in roads, bridges and transit have remained flat in recent years.
Building America's Future, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the American Society of Civil Engineers will co-host a forum Friday to discuss how a long-term plan of smart infrastructure investments will grow the economy and enhance the nation's economic competitiveness.
Transportation projects that significantly improve mobility will give America a greater competitive edge. Our global competitors know this and have been investing billions in 21st-century transportation networks. For example, China has invested more than $3.3 trillion since 2000 and is now home to six of the world's top 10 ports. The European Union invested more than $578 billion to create a single, multimodal network to integrate land, water and air transport networks.
Meanwhile, the United States spends only 1.7 percent of its GDP on transportation investment and maintenance. What gives?
While Washington sits on its hands, many governors and mayors are taking action. This year alone, four governors have signed legislation to raise revenue for transportation and two others have similar proposals pending in their legislatures. And the success rate for local ballot initiatives continues to remain high. In 2012, the success rate was 79 percent.