The Trump administration compiled a list of about 50 infrastructure investment priorities nationwide, with a focus on shovel ready projects that promote public safety, national security and economic development, according to McClatchy’s Kansas City Star. Improved infrastructure could mean safer, more efficient and more economical travel and transport in the Greater Philadelphia region.
The proposed projects, selected from a larger list developed by the National Governor’s Association (NGA), represent an investment of $137.5 billion and are estimated to create 193,350 direct jobs. These are full time equivalent, year long positions related to on-site labor and professional services for the design and construction of these projects.
Philadelphia stands to gain, with a proposal to repair or replace 15 bridges on I-95. This is estimated to be an $8 billion investment that will generate 15,800 direct jobs during the construction phase.
The NextGen Air Traffic Control System, a priority of Pennsylvania Congressman and House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster, would upgrade the nation’s air traffic control system to a satellite-based system. The benefits? Shorter flight times, fuels savings, increased safety, and the ability to increase air traffic capacity by 50%. Implementing this system would generate 2,300 direct jobs.
Beyond public safety - and the immediate jobs for civil engineers, structural engineers, road builders, geotechnical experts, stormwater experts, construction workers, concrete suppliers, and steel workers – these infrastructure investments buttress existing economic growth that relies on strong infrastructure.
As Craig Ey highlighted in his recent report in the Philadelphia Business Journal, “Greater Philadelphia is on a roll.” The city and surrounding burbs are alive with new projects from new manufacturing (Proconex) and innovation hubs (Wexford and Schuylkill Yards). But, as Ey notes, “infrastructure remains a concern, as bridges and highways continue to age” and our rail system struggles with structural and operational challenges. No one sets their watch by SEPTA.
The Brookings Institute’s analysis of thriving metropolitan areas, considers infrastructure connectivity to be a key competiveness factor.
Consider, for example, the area’s warehousing/industrial big box and logistics sectors. “The Eastern Pennsylvania Big-Box/Logistics market’s 5.5% year-to-date growth ranks the region as one of the most rapidly expanding in the U.S., confirming its first tier status among national industrial markets.” (Colliers, Research Report Q3 2016). Eastern Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley, and New Jersey have emerged as one of the most robust regions for big box development, like the fulfillment center Advanced GeoServices helped Urban Outfitters develop, due to proximity to customers, strong transportation infrastructure, and available workforce. The growth in internet ordering, especially for food and beverage, drives the need for strategically located and effectively designed warehouse facilities. Eastern Pennsylvania offers one-day truck driving access to four metropolitan statistical areas. 46 million people, with a combined income of $1.46 trillion, live within a 200-mile radius. Safe, right sized highway and transport infrastructure are fundamental to this sector.
Improving I-95 must, of course, be a part of a much more comprehensive approach to strengthening the region’s infrastructure.
Trump’s administration plans to rely on public-private partnerships and tax credits to finance. Project criteria are public safety or national security emergencies; 30% design and engineering work complete (“shovel ready”); direct job creation; and the potential to increase U.S. manufacturing.
Senior Senate Democrats unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. One big difference – that plan relies on direct federal spending.
Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a hearing on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America”. Expert testimony will come from BMW, FedEx, the AFL-CIO, and others.
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