Failure to address US infra gap will cost $4trn

While four of the five sectors analysed have shown modest improvement, the surface transportation investment gap has widened, a report finds.

The failure to address the US infrastructure investment gap by 2025 is likely to result in a loss of $4 trillion in GDP and 2.5 million jobs, the American Society of Civil Engineers warns in its latest report.

The ASCE launched its Failure to Act report series in 2011, followed by updated reports in 2012. The purpose was to provide an aggregate analysis of the economic implications to businesses, households and the overall economy of the country’s failure to address the infrastructure investment gap across five subsectors.

“The economic analysis of this report indicates that our nation’s inland waterways and marine ports, electricity infrastructure, airports, as well as water and wastewater infrastructure have all shown modest improvement or been stable since the previous reports,” ASCE stated.

“However, this is not the case with the surface transportation investment gap which has increased since the prior studies.”

The ASCE acknowledges that the physical condition of roads and bridges has improved but increased road congestion and the decline of public transportation facilities and equipment are widening the sector’s investment gap.

The organisation believes the average annual investment gap for surface transportation through 2025 will increase from $91 billion to $110 billion. The remaining four subsectors’ investment gaps are expected to decrease, with inland waterways going from $1.8 billion to $1.5 billion, airports from $4.6 billion to $4.2 billion, water/wastewater from $11.3 billion to $10.5 billion and electricity from $21 billion to $18 billion.

Despite the modest improvement noted in four of the five sectors, the country’s infrastructure investment gap will cost each household $3,400 each year between 2016 and 2025, while businesses, which will incur higher costs due to increased inefficiencies, will become less productive and less competitive.

“The results of this update study underscore the findings of the preceding reports in the Failure to Act series, showing that the economic benefits of infrastructure investment reverberate through every sector of the economy while economic losses that come from deferred investment also become worse over time,” the ASCE concluded.