Brookings: Here’s Why To Focus On Infrastructure

Maryland rates among the states with the largest declines in “investment” spending since 2000
An online “explainer” article from the Hutchins Center at the Brookings Institute details national trends on public infrastructure investment. The article makes a case for increased investment in infrastructure, and speculates various ways that the incoming federal administration may pursue those priorities.

The article notes that “[R]ecent public discussion of government investment focuses on the non-defense activities that have a clearer link to private-sector productivity growth, profits and wages. Net non-defense public investment spending has been trending down for the past decade.”

From the article:

Many advocates for increasing investment point to our crumbling roads and bridges. One element of the case for spending more on infrastructure than we do today is that the average age of many types of infrastructure has increased over the last 15 years, most notably for highways and streets and public transportation. The average age for streets and highways, for example, grew from about 23 years in 2000 to over 28 years in 2015 (See the chart below). The average age of infrastructure can be lowered by investing in either new infrastructure assets or maintenance and repair of the existing physical capital.

MACo has adopted a Local infrastructure Fast Track as a top priority for the 2017 legislative session. MACo advocates for strong and predictable funding restoration to local roads and bridges – whose funding was slashed dramatically during the “great recession” and not meaningfully restored. MACo also advocates for a comprehensive assessment of the status, needs, and funding of critical infrastructure statewide. For more information on the LIFT4MD effort, see MACo’s website for details.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties