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US infrastructure in poor shape: manufacturers

Keywords: Tags  National Association of Manufacturers, NAM, U.S. infrastructure, roads, bridges, ports, locks & dams, Jay Timmons American Waterways Operators

CHICAGO — Most manufacturers believe the U.S. infrastructure is in fair or poor shape, with roads in particular getting worse.

Respondents to a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) survey also worry that the U.S. infrastructure is not positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy.

"This survey clearly demonstrates that our nation’s approach to investing in infrastructure is not improving at a pace to keep up with the growing needs of manufacturers and that the United States risks falling behind," NAM president and chief executive officer Jay Timmons said. "Our outdated roads, ports and inland waterways are in desperate need of repair and continue to add costs and complications as manufacturers move their products to market."

Timmons said manufacturers are "counting on Congress" to fulfill its duty to facilitate U.S. commerce by passing legislation that helps fund ports, inland waterways and other key water resource projects.

The American Waterways Operators (AWO), an Arlington, Va.-based association representing vessel operators on the Great Lakes and river systems, applauded Congress Sept. 13 on progressing with the "long overdue" Water Resources Development Act.

The AWO is seeking an industry-supported increase of a user fee for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund as a way to reinvest in ports and inland lock and dam systems. Fifty-seven percent of the locks and dams on the nation’s inland waterways system have exceeded their economic design life expectancy, AWO claimed, and funding for needed maintenance and modernization has been flat or decreasing.

"Modernized ports and transportation systems enable American manufacturers and businesses to export their goods," Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America’s Future, said.

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