We can't ignore infrastructure, transportation
Delaware’s economy is in crisis and should be treated as such. Delaware has lost nearly 40 percent of its construction workforce in the past four years. Jobs are migrating regionally and so are our engineering graduates as they struggle to find employment in Delaware. With no funding for transportation and civil infrastructure projects, we are not attracting new business and our long term competitiveness is at risk.
Creating and maintaining our transportation infrastructure is a vital component of Delaware’s economic well-being and essential to much-needed job creation and retention for our state. Earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Virginia and State of Maryland passed legislation that will generate a combined $8.5 billion in additional revenue for their respective DOTs over the next five years. Conversely, in Delaware, we have seen a lack of planned investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure as evidenced by DelDOT’s postponing/delaying of over 50 roadway, bridge and safety improvement projects.
The state should be finding ways to generate additional investment in transportation infrastructure as an effective mechanism to promote jobs and economic growth. Every $1 invested in transportation infrastructure projects returns $8 to the economy. Simply put, this is a great return on an investment that is needed to safely preserve Delaware’s roadway network and 1,500 bridges. These kinds of projects will ultimately engage a broader spectrum of the entire transportation and construction industry, including engineering firms, contractors, equipment manufacturers, materials suppliers, and other service providers. These improvement projects also sustain more jobs over a longer period of time and produce the kinds of infrastructure that truly promote economic growth.
We cannot afford to shut down the production pipeline in transportation and civil infrastructure projects. By waiting, we will lose jobs in the short term, but Delaware will continue to fall much further behind in its infrastructure backlog and our transportation systems will continue to deteriorate, negatively impacting our state’s economy and the quality of life of Delawareans.
Ted F. Januszka, PE
American Council of Engineering Companies of Delaware