The National Infrastructure Bank

February 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment


By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and

Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

Press releases reported last month that a “broad coalition of members of Congress, experts and stakeholders called on Congress and the Obama Administration to create a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB) to help generate the investment needed for infrastructure projects of regional and national importance.” Similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the NIB would be set up  as an independent entity with a board of directors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Specifically, the NIB would leverage private dollars to invest in and help improve the nation’s infrastructure, internet, smart grid, broadband, and schools. “The amount of federal investment would be determined on a sliding scale based on the type of infrastructure, location, project cost, current and projected usage, non-federal revenue, promotion of economic growth and community development, reduction in congestion, environmental benefits, and land-use policies that promote smart growth.” ACEC, ASCE, AWWA, ARBTA and a multitude of other organizations and political entities endorse this important legislation.

Leaders of “Building America’s Future”  in their letter to President Obama commended him for his efforts and wrote in part:

“We write to ask for your continued leadership on the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, which will help rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, including our transportation, water and wastewater, broadband, power grid and other critical assets. As you know, the American Society of Civil Engineers identified more than $2.2 trillion in outstanding infrastructure needs. We cannot improve our infrastructure through the annual appropriations process alone.

We must renew our commitment to a National Infrastructure Bank that can help leverage public and private dollars, address regional and national needs and spur a rebirth in how our country invests in infrastructure. Building America’s Future, along with many other organizations, has educated the public about the outstanding needs throughout our country. Cities and states are struggling to find enough resources on their own.”

Critics are pontificating on the reasons why this will not work. One of their concern centers on the shortfall of the initial investment.  Their thought is that we can’t find enough money to fully fund a trillion dollar need, so why fund with a “paltry” $60 billion?  Secondly, critics are hung up on the term “bank.” Banks need to lend money and generate revenue, and therefore make investments that repay themselves. Since all infrastructure projects will not return large financial investment, then critics want the bank funding investment portfolio modified. Finally, the critics regard any federal organization as ineffective.

We cannot afford another eight years of inactivity and political battles.

These infrastructure repairs are desperately needed. This is our industry’s future and we support this initiative.

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Entry filed under: civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Issues, Failing US Infrastructure, Sustainability, US Infrastructure. Tags: , , .

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