Updating U.S. Infrastructure Equals Creating Jobs: It is an Economic Win-Win
The many hassles that drivers are facing traveling the local roadways and major highways have cast a different light on urban transportation and its related problems.
A committee led by former transportation representatives has outlined the need for almost $200 billion to upgrade transportation systems in the United States and President Barack Obama is requesting a more palpable amount in the $50 billion range to address many of the immediate highway and bridge needs.
While the discussion of the amounts for these projects and where these funds will be derived continues to be bandied about, the need to improve urban transportation and the consequences for the ongoing neglect can no longer be ignored.
The United States lags behind other developing countries in its funding for urban transportation and infrastructure upgrades.
Equally important, with the focus on improving the economy and stimulating job creation, there is economic gold in the roads and bridges that we travel on daily. Reviving the urban transportation system in this country not only reinforces the aged and dangerous infrastructure, but also creates a nationwide framework of jobs.
As outlined in the Road Management & Engineering Journal, the issues surrounding the urban transportation problem are not simple ones. An article in the journal entitled, “Strategies for Solving Urban Transportation Problems in Developing Countries,” states that “large increases in urban population and pollution have seriously compromised existing transportation systems and significantly increased the challenge of creating future transportation systems.” We need to first identify what urban transportation does and then look at ways that it can be utilized to increase jobs and improve transportation systems overall roads.
According to Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue in his paper, Urban Land Use and Transportation, urban transportation aims at supporting transport demands generated by the diversity of urban activities in a diversity of urban contexts.
Therefore better understanding of urban entities thus lies in analyzing patterns and processes of the transport and land use system. Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski outlined the rationale and the immediacy for the importance of an urban transportation model in Oregon’s Jobs and Transportation Act 2009.
He stated, “Investing in our transportation system is the strongest stimulus tool available to us during this current economic downturn. It creates jobs, keeps products moving effectively and efficiently and helps local businesses keep their doors open. Oregon’s multi-billion dollar transportation infrastructure hasn’t been maintained to keep up with population growth and freight traffic, hindering Oregon’s ability to move people, commerce and goods effectively throughout the state. The result is more gridlock, more time spent in the car instead of with our families, and more carbon emissions in our air.”
His views mirror that of many on the state and federal levels who have been vigilant in championing the cause of addressing transportation and creating jobs.
Improving the transportation system is an economic “win-win” that requires bringing together public and private sector representatives with community groups to identify the multi-use needs of that community to design an effective and efficient transportation system.
Upgrading the nation’s infrastructure provides employment opportunities for people at all levels of the spectrum who would be working to improve the neighborhoods in which they live.
The emphasis on sustainable living has increased and the role of transportation systems and job creation in this format is interrelated. The need to move people and commerce, to address the spread of the population out of urban communities and to reduce pollution may seem like lofty goals, but they are vital ones.
Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.