Stimulus is a Band-Aid for a major problem in-waiting

Get a wound. Cover it with a Band-Aid. For the time being, it takes care of the problem.

But if you have an infection in that wound, temporarily covering it with a bandage just temporarily takes care of the problem.

That’s what the stimulus plan is doing for infrastructure. Don’t get it wrong- – it’s fabulous and fantastic that we’re getting $48 billion for infrastructure, with $27.5 billion of it going to roads, highways, and bridges.

But it doesn’t solve the underlying issue. It’s like an infection that’s festering, waiting to rear its ugly head.

That’s exactly what the Kiplinger Letters said.

Here’s an excerpt:

The federal stimulus spending will fill a lot of potholes around the country, but it won’t go far in filling a very deep hole in U.S. infrastructure needs. The roughly $27 billion being doled out to states this year and next is actually less than the yearly gap between what the federal government would normally spend and what states need to maintain and repair infrastructure, such as crumbling highways, bridges and overpasses.

Stimulus funds won’t help get projects started that are considered crucial to untangling traffic snarls that sap business productivity and stall motorists. Replacing New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River, for example, likely will cost up to $7 billion. But that entire state’s road infrastructure stimulus payment will total just over $1 billion. In Oregon, funding will fall woefully short of what’s needed to build bridges connecting the state to Washington via the I-5 or to build a 4,000-mile highway to Texas.

But once the stimulus funds are spent, previous neglect will return. Odds are lawmakers won’t find a new funding mechanism to replace gas taxes in the next federal highway bill, which must be enacted before Oct. 1.


We all know what this means. It’s back to square one. And that little infrastructure problem — our version of an infection — will just wait to come back in full force when the Highway Trust Fund is in the red again and SAFETEA-LU has expired. Let’s just hope we don’t have 12 extensions this time around.