The nation’s crumbling infrastructure poses a threat to public safety, environmental health, economic productivity, and the well-being of urban and rural communities across the U.S. For instance:
- The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded the country’s infrastructure as “below standard” and “significantly deteriorated;”
- Almost 40 million rural residents, 10 percent of people in urban environments and 41 percent of schools lack high-speed broadband access; and
- Most water and sewer systems in the U.S. were built more than 50 years ago, leading to 240,000 water main breaks annually – enough to supply clean drinking water to 15 million households per day.
If there is a silver-lining, it is that improving our infrastructure is ripe with opportunities to promote greater economic inclusion for women, minorities and residents of low-income communities in rural and urban areas. The fact sheet outlines several policy solutions that policymakers should consider when drafting an infrastructure bill, including strategies for ensuring hiring and training of low-income and chronically unemployed workers, conducting racial impact and health assessments, and set-aside programs that ensure diversity in contracting and distribution of infrastructure funds to disadvantaged communities.
Consider these facts, for example:
- For every $1 billion invested in transportation, on average, an estimated 36,000 jobs are created;
- A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure is estimated to create more than 11 million new jobs over the next 10 years;
- Developing roadways, eliminating blight, and making public transportation more accessible can produce a substantial return on investment in low-income communities; and
- Investment in green spaces can capture carbon and greenhouse emissions, while simultaneously encouraging physical activity.
Infrastructure investments should include the renovation and building of schools, parks, sidewalks, recreational facilities, and other resources communities need to be healthy. If structured for equitable outcomes that close gaps and focus resources among populations and communities most in need, infrastructure investments can lift up millions of working families and create thriving cities and towns that promote the health and economic well-being of all residents.
Want to learn more? View the recording of our webinar, “Ensuring Equity-Centered Provisions in Upcoming Infrastructure Proposals: A Strategy Discussion.”