The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Washington, D.C., the nation's largest commercial construction trade association, recently urged House Democrats to develop an economic recovery plan that includes provisions that will boost construction activity. "A significant boost to construction in the form of increased infrastructure investment will create jobs and increase the quality of life for millions of Americans who rely daily on our nation's infrastructure, from roads and bridges, to water systems and schools," says AGC's Chief Executive Officer Stephen E. Sandherr. "We congratulate the House on passage of a stimulus appropriations bill prior to adjournment on October 3, and we urge the senators, who rejected a stimulus bill on September 26, to reconsider."
In late September, the House passed an economic stimulus bill (264-158) which included approximately $34 billion for infrastructure investment, including $12.8 billion for the federal-aid highway program; $3.6 billion for transit; $600 million for airport capital improvement projects; $7.5 billion for water infrastructure; $5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; $3 billion for public school reconstruction; $500 million for Amtrak; and $1 billion for public housing construction. A similar bill in the Senate failed on a procedural vote (52-42).
It is estimated that $100 billion of new infrastructure projects have been delayed due to the reduced credit market. Coupled with construction materials cost inflation, fewer contracts are going out to bid, resulting in 52,000 lost construction jobs and a further deteriorating national infrastructure. Over the past year, AGC has met with congressional leaders, sent strong messages to both the House and Senate, and signed on to letters from transportation related coalitions in support of infrastructure investment. Speaker Pelosi has indicated that the Economic Forum will help Congress develop a plan that will create jobs by building roads, bridges, and highways.
"Construction has always been an engine of economic stimulus and can play that role once again," says Sandherr. "Increases in infrastructure investment can be quickly put into play and will have a direct, immediate and dramatic impact on the economy."
AGC has additional information on infrastructure investment including a white paper, The Pivotal Role of Federal Infrastructure Investment in Our Economy, on the AGC Web site.