Now is the time to invest in infrastructure
By Kris Johnson
Washington’s infrastructure is due for a major investment.
Strong economies and livable communities are built on sound roads, bridges and highways, ports that move our goods efficiently to markets throughout the world, and access to safe water and reliable broadband internet in every corner of the state.
A new report from a coalition of associations representing the state’s cities, counties, ports and private-sector employers highlights just how much work needs to be done.
The report, “Building the Economy: Infrastructure Needs in Washington,” outlines more than $222 billion in needed infrastructure spending throughout the state. The findings update a 2017 report from the same coalition and reaffirm both the need to invest in Washington’s core infrastructure and the benefits that will come as a result.
The list of needs is substantial: $147 billion for highways and roads, $16 billion for fish and habitat projects and nearly $5 billion to make our energy grid safer, more efficient and secure. Rail, aviation, water, communications and other priorities complete the list.
But the opportunities are also great. Making the needed investments will create an estimated 706,000-777,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to the report.
The report was commissioned by the Association of Washington Business, Association of Washington Cities, Washington State Association of Counties and the Washington Public Ports Association.
It uses existing data on needs and illustrative projects from throughout the state to highlight investment opportunities in critical areas, such as the Odessa Aquifer in Adams County, Spokane International Airport expansion, the Lake Cushman Broadband Project in Mason County, US2 trestle construction in Snohomish County, barge facility improvements in Clallam County, replacing the Interstate 5 bridge in Vancouver and fish passage restoration throughout the state.
Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure begins at the federal level, but the unprecedented partnership between the four associations demonstrates that Washington state has laid the groundwork to act quickly and make smart use of resources when the opportunity arises.
When the federal government acts, Washington is ready to build — building off our prior investments
There’s reason to be optimistic. There appears to be agreement across party lines in Congress about the importance of infrastructure funding. There’s strong public support, as well. A Gallup poll from last year shows Americans broadly support spending more public dollars on infrastructure.
This investment will pay for itself. Washington contributes more than $300 billion to the United States economy each year, and our ports move more than $70 billion in goods, which ranks No. 4 in the country. And every dollar invested in infrastructure yields a $1.50 ripple effect that flows through the community.
There’s no time like today to get started. An estimated 2 million additional people are expected to call Washington home by 2040. These new neighbors will rely on a strong economy to provide good jobs, clean water, good roads and a reliable energy grid.
And everyone who currently lives here will benefit, as well. Imagine smooth, safe highways that help all Washingtonians get to work and school on time and move crops to market. Fast, reliable broadband to connect all kids to new learning opportunities, or create new jobs in small towns. Efficient ports, safer bridges and safe drinking water throughout the state.
Failure to make these essential investments threatens economic growth. Making them creates jobs, increases public health, sustains Washington’s trade-driven economy and protects our quality of life.