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In recent years it has been difficult to pick up a newspaper or magazine without reading something about infrastructure.

While infrastructure includes sewer, water, utilities and other "permanent installations," the most visible are our highways and bridges.

What is the problem? The federal government estimates there are in excess of 200,000 miles of highway in poor condition and 100,000 "structurally deficient" bridges. Our interstate highway system, designed almost 50 years ago, is carrying much more traffic than it was designed to carry.

Complete failure of bridges has occurred in recent years and while loss of life occurrences have been isolated, I can't help but think, when I drive over a bridge, "is this one of those bridges about to fail?"

According to Byron Farrell, president of the Associated General Contractors, it will take $300 billion just to bring our bridges and highways up to satisfactory condition without building any new structures.

To alleviate our nation's crowded highways, we need to begin construction of a National Highway System (NHS). Only 4 percent of the total highway mileage, this system will carry 75 percent of the motor freight if passed by Congress.

Fortunately several states, including Arkansas, have passed motor fuel tax increases to fund highway and bridge construction in the interim.

Studies indicate that for each billion dollars spent on infrastructure, 50,000 jobs in construction and related industries and $3.62 billion in economic activity are created.

With such facts and figures before them, it is difficult to understand how the present administration has chosen to divert 2.5 cents per gallon from federal motor fuel tax revenue to the General Fund for budget reduction.

What can you do about it? Let the administration and Congress know how you feel. Secondly, get involved. The Rebuild American Coalition is made up of 57 national public and private organizations committed to reversing the decline in America's infrastructure. Contact the Associated General Contractors of America, Arkansas Chapter, for more specific information.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas
Author:Kinnaman, Jack
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 16, 1993
Previous Article:Banking.
Next Article:UAMS responds to an aging Arkansas.

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