The Common Good
December 2007

A Crumbling Infrastructure

by Rose Marie Berger | December 2007

Between 1950 and 1970, the U.S.

Between 1950 and 1970, the U.S. spent 3 percent of its gross domestic product maintaining America’s infrastructure; since 1980, the country has spent “well less than 2 percent,” according to a report by the New America Foundation. As the August collapse of Minneapolis’ Interstate 35W bridge reminds us, this backlog can have fatal consequences. While Iraq war appropriations exceed $456 billion, America’s highways, bridges, waste and water facilities, harbors, and airports are poorly maintained (and public education and affordable housing are seriously underfunded)—and predicted to become significantly more so by 2015.

3.5 million public housing units could be built with $456 billion.

27.1 percent of U.S. bridges are listed as structurally deficient or obsolete.

30 percent of annual highway fatalities result from inadequate roadway maintenance.

45,800 elementary schools could be built with $456 billion.

1 percent: amount that annual expenditures to maintain the U.S. power grid have decreased since 1992.

8 million public school teachers could be hired for one year with $456 billion.

Sources: “Ten Big Ideas for a New America” (New America Foundation, 2007); “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure 2005,” (American Society of Civil Engineers); the National Priorities Project; “The Bucks Never Stop: Iraq and Afghanistan War Costs Continue To Soar” (The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation).

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories

Resources

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)