This article originally appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Infrastructure matters. It matters, in big and small ways. It matters to our country, our economy, our quality of life, our safety, and our communities. Roads, bridges, rail, airports, pipes, the power grid and broadband matter to companies that manufacture and ship goods. They matter to our daily commutes and our summer vacations. Infrastructure determines if we can drink water straight from our taps or even do our laundry. It brings electricity into our homes. Ultimately, it matters to almost every aspect of our daily lives.
For every year that America fails to adequately invest in infrastructure, the United States becomes less competitive, economic growth slows, and families and businesses lose valuable time and money. Many of our roads are in poor condition and littered with potholes. In places like Provo and Orem, for example, 30 percent of roads are considered to be in poor condition, costing drivers $583 in avoidable vehicle repairs and operating costs each year.
On the other hand, for every $1 invested in infrastructure nearly $1.94 in output is created — giving us, our friends and our neighbors valuable work opportunities.
The Utah Transportation Coalition and the Salt Lake Chamber have teamed up with hundreds of other groups around the country to participate in Infrastructure Week 2016, which runs May 16 to May 23. During this time we’re raising awareness about the need to invest in infrastructure — the backbone of our economy — locally and nationally.
Infrastructure Week provides an inflection point that allows us to come together to recognize progress and leadership at the federal, state, and local levels — and there is much to celebrate. Utah has made significant strides in addressing investments in transportation needs. Additionally, Congress passed the longest reauthorization of federal transportation programs in over a decade.
Utah has also made recent and substantial progress in long-term water planning through data driven decision making. And, like other infrastructure investments, Utah also recognized the necessity of broadband infrastructure by prioritization of statewide broadband mapping.
We also benefit from ongoing investment in the Salt Lake City International Airport redevelopment.
Despite our progress, we still have a long road ahead. Innovations can bolster economic growth. On the other hand, failing to use them can adversely affect our prosperity if not properly addressed.
Utahns deserve a 21st century transportation network that includes modern aviation systems, clean and reliable water and wastewater service, broadband access in every community and a freight network that can keep pace in with our expanding economy.
To accomplish this, leaders at all levels will need to commit to building a long-term, sustainable plan to invest in America’s infrastructure. Infrastructure, and the life quality it carries, matters too much to fail.
Dave Golden is executive vice president at Wells Fargo Bank and chair of the Utah Transportation Coalition.