Happening Now

IIJA Is Already Working; Losing It Would Cost Billions

May 17, 2024

By Jim Mathews / President & CEO

Even though the investments in the IIJA/Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have really only just begun to be felt, they’re already saving each average American household nearly $700 per year, says the American Society of Civil Engineers, which also warned this week that snapping back to investment levels before this historic legislation would drop a $637 billion bomb on the U.S. economy.

“While the [Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act, IIJA] investment has been essential to the country’s infrastructure, continued investment is necessary or those savings to each American household vanish by 2026,” the ASCE said this week as it released its “Bridging the Gap” report on the economic benefits of infrastructure investment.

“The scenario that maintains current IIJA funding into the next decade would save the U.S. GDP $637 billion,” ASCE says, savings which would be lost if the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law simply becomes a one-and-done.

Darren Olson, who chairs ASCE’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure, noted this week that because the U.S. chronically underinvested in infrastructure for so many decades, even the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s extraordinary investment levels leave a significant gap in what is needed to bring our infrastructure back into a state of good repair by 2033.

“It’s a down payment,” Olson says. “It’s the start of the process to slow the growth of the [investment] gap, but because we have not done this for so long, it is impossible to significantly impact the gap without a long-term sustained investment.”

Your Association is working hard to identify coalition partners to help us ensure that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law really does become a blueprint for future surface transportation investment. Sean Jeans-Gail, your Policy VP, and I have already started building a detailed plan to make sure this money is NOT a one-off, like so many disappointing one-offs in passenger rail we’ve seen in the past.

We’ve started circulating ideas in Congress for whatever law comes next after the five-year Bipartisan Infrastructure Law runs out in 2026. Number one, of course, is to re-authorize the next surface bill at the same levels we saw in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: $101 billion overall, split between guaranteed appropriations and an authorized additional level. And we spent much of this week firming up support among companies, labor groups, and others who all have a common interest in making sure we continue to invest at healthy levels in our surface transportation network.

ASCE says that even with the IIJA levels extended forward, there’s a $1.2 trillion gap between what will be spent on rail, transit, waterways, and the $3.5 trillion that will be needed between now and 2033.

During the coming decade, reauthorizing at IIJA levels would protect U.S. industries from losing more than $1 trillion – with a “T” – in gross output and helps to avoid a loss of more than $600 billion in GDP.

ASCE explains that “these values translate into household and employment benefits nationwide as American families will have an additional $550 billion in disposable income over the next decade and 237,000 American jobs will be saved.”

Between now and 2033, ASCE calculates a more than $1 trillion difference in the projected effects on gross output between the “Continuing to Act” scenario maintaining IIJA spending levels and the so-called “snapback” scenario falling back to pre-IIJA investment levels. In fact, over the 20-year total span of ASCE’s study, snapping back to pre-IIJA infrastructure investment would cost the U.S. economy nearly $5 trillion in cumulative loss.