How infrastructure improvements can benefit the economy

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

I’ve talked about the need for infrastructure improvements before in this space. My position has been and will continue to be that we can’t keep kicking the proverbial infrastructure improvements can down the road.

I read recently that President-elect Biden is assembling his transition team, including naming folks for both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. I don’t as yet know a lot about the suggested appointees, but if I could give them a piece of advice it would be to focus some attention and funding on bringing the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels up from the current “D” rating they have from the American Society of Civil Engineers. I know that if I had brought a “D” home on my report card, I would have been in big trouble.

In addition to needing good roads and bridges to transport essential goods, these same road and bridge improvement projects are job creators and would be a boom to the economy in general and to dealing with the unemployment problem. Think of it as a kind of stimulus package, but one in which we put people back to work rather than paying them to stay home. These projects could be coupled with new road signage, improved lighting and corresponding lane markers. There is no better stimulus, in my opinion than having a meaningful job and being able to buy the things your family wants and needs.

Another reason that we need to bring up the condition of our highways is that all signs point to an electric future for the trucking industry. It is not “if,” it is “when.” To be clear, the move to electric trucks won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen at all without a charging infrastructure. If we can’t even improve the condition of the existing infrastructure, how are we going to be able to prepare an infrastructure that supports electric vehicles? And don’t even get me started on the changes that will be needed if we move to autonomous trucking.

I don’t think there is a better time than right now to undertake these infrastructure improvements. COVID-19 taught the general public just how important trucking is to their daily existence. People now have a better understanding and appreciation of trucking’s role in the economy and a better appreciation of the work truckers do.

We should encourage our elected officials to take the steps necessary to make these infrastructure improvements, not just for the good of the trucking industry, but for all the jobs infrastructure improvement projects will create and the overall positive impact it will have in the overall economy.

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