America’s infrastructure might not be as bad as it seems

The talk in Washington these days leaves little doubt that our country’s roads, bridges, pipes, tracks and wires are all in serious trouble. A national group of civil engineers grades the U.S.  infrastructure at a D+. Governors, mayors and transportation advocates repeat the same message of near-failure, especially as they try to convince Congress to pass a major infrastructure package.

Their pitch often comes down to this: Improved infrastructure will get Americans out of traffic and stimulate the country’s economy.

However, as Governing reports, Matthew Turner, an economics professor from Brown University, says many of those assumptions are flawed. In a new paper from the Brookings Institution, Turner contends that the nation’s infrastructure is in as good a shape as it has been for decades, maybe better.

Turner’s research does suggest that, although the roads are in decent shape, a realignment of infrastructure spending is needed, with money directed away from rural highways and reinvested in urban transit networks.

The paper is not without criticism. Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research for TRIP, a transportation research group that often highlights the poor condition of state and federal road networks, says Turner’s analysis only skimmed the surface when he looked at the condition of transportation infrastructure. Read the full story.

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