Democrats celebrated passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill with hype that both sides utilize involving elaborate promises of immediate results. Will this “once-in-a-generation” event deliver as advertised? Don’t pull out the champagne and confetti just yet.

Propaganda is seen clearly in the numerous projects hypothetically addressed by the money. The New York Times declared “nearly $600 billion in new federal aid to improve highways, bridges, dams, public transit, rail, ports, airports, water quality and broadband, a once-in-a-generation chance to overhaul the nation’s public works.”

Can all those be tackled with a paltry half-billion dollars? In a word—No! In July 2017, regarding a Trump trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal, Barclays estimated the top 10 projects alone would cost $132 billion, almost a fourth of the new allocation. If you’re counting there are nine categories in the above Times reference. In 1973 the nation’s newest dam, Idaho’s Dworshak cost $312 million. Today nearly two billion. Vox magazine reported that the Los Angeles “Purple Line cost $800 million per mile.”

Time frames are another area of political dishonesty. Remember Obama’s stimulus promise of shovel ready jobs? That assertion didn’t materialize. Most of these developments won’t be under way for years and completion dates are difficult to set.

For example, LA’s three-phase subway Purple Line was approved in 2012. But third phase groundbreaking didn’t take place until May 2021. Completion on the first section isn’t expected till 2023. A full decade for one section of nine miles of subway. Three presidents will have come and gone before that one mostly unseen project is completed.

Why so long? Bureaucracy. Surveys, contractor bidding, zoning discussions, landowner objections, lawsuit resolutions, and bogeyman of them all, environmental impact studies. Required for all ‘“major federal actions” Vox continued, “that could ‘significantly affect’ the environment, [EIS] lawsuits have turned once reasonable requirements into behemoths: The average EIS runs 600 pages, plus appendices. No ground can be broken until the EIS has made it through the legal gauntlet – and this includes federal projects and private projects requiring a federal permit.” The Purple line was delayed two years by the EIS. No wonder many roads are patched rather than replaced. It’s just easier.

The Takeaway? American’s must stop expecting these promises and our leaders must stop making them. The Eisenhower Interstate System began in 1956 but was not officially complete until 1992. Time! The cost of widening Interstate 81 through Virginia was estimated at $3.3 billion — in 1997! Cost!

It’s not just the time or money. It’s that the next President/Congress will come in heralding how their costly but vital infrastructure plan will solve everything quickly.

Instead we need tough talk about our infrastructure challenges including time and money reminders and accountability on how the money is spent. Most American’s will see little change from this “once-in-a-generation” legislation. It’s about time our leaders said so.

William Shifflett is an author, freelance writer and blogger who resides in Edinburg

(2) comments

Ron G

Rev. Shifflett, Democrats never heralded the amounts in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure bill as being enough to address all the problems that exist. Nor did they promise immediate results.

Ron G

Adding to my earlier comment, "After all spending is spread out over 8 years".

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