Transportation and Infrastructure
All across America, our infrastructure is in growing need of repair and greater investment. Roads are cracking, bridges are crumbling, and dams and levees are aging. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), an estimated 240,000 water mains break every year, and nearly 25 percent of our nation's bridges are either "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete." Furthermore, our electrical grid is estimated to lose around seven percent of all generated power during transmission and distribution. Federal investments for waterways and ports have also dwindled, and funding for the construction of new schools and parks has fallen by half since the economic recession of 2009. It is no surprise that the ASCE has rated the condition and performance of our national infrastructure a D+.
In addition to increasing public safety, investing in our nation's infrastructure would have tremendous economic benefits. It is estimated that for every $1 billion that we invest in infrastructure construction projects such as bridges, roads, schools, and hospitals, 18,000 jobs are supported nationwide. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that increasing energy efficiency could reduce national energy use by as much as 20 percent in 2020. It is clear that we must make infrastructure development and investment a national priority.
In 2010, Florida was poised to become the first state to usher in the era of American high-speed rail as it prepared to build the first stretch of a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. The rail line was to link to Central Florida's planned SunRail commuter line, South Florida's Tri-Rail commuter line, and a national rail network. The project was estimated to create 23,000 construction jobs alone, increase commerce and tourism, and generate a $10 million operating surplus during its first year of service. However, in February 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 million in federal funding for the project, funding that would have created much-needed jobs for many Floridians in both my Congressional district and our state.
We can and must do better. The American people deserve a transportation system that is not only modern and reliable, but one that helps individuals and families access economic opportunities for a better life. We need a truly interconnected, multi-modal system that effectively utilizes high-speed rail, light rail, streetcars, vanpools, efficient buses, cars, and bikes. In addition, it should also help increase our energy independence through new sources and innovative technologies; improve the quality of the air we breathe; reduce traffic deaths and injuries; and create jobs by supporting America's hard-hit construction and manufacturing sectors. Finally, we must continue to support and adequately fund the implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) NextGen programs, which will improve the safety and efficiency of our National Airspace System (NAS).