Cities Say They Badly Need Critical Infrastructure Funding

By: - May 10, 2021 12:00 am

Workers replace old water lines under Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, in March. Cities say they need more funding for infrastructure. Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press

The vast majority of city officials say infrastructure funding is a top priority, according to survey data released Monday by the National League of Cities, which represents 19,000 cities, villages and towns.

Ninety-one percent of nearly 600 local leaders surveyed in March and April ranked the need for more money as the biggest factor affecting their decision-making about infrastructure.

“The best time to invest in infrastructure was years ago. The second-best time is right now,” Vince Williams, the league’s first vice president and mayor of Union City, Georgia, said in a news release. ”The needs of America’s communities, families and workers are simply not being met by the current level of funding and support from the federal government on this critical issue.”

President Joe Biden has proposed a massive trillion infrastructure package, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress have come up with their own infrastructure plans.

As Biden and Congress hash it out, some governors and state legislatures that wound up with unexpected budget surpluses despite the pandemic are planning to use a chunk of the money to make one-time investments in road construction, broadband or other infrastructure projects. Some also are looking to make long-term investments in bigger-ticket items such as expanding public transit options.

But cities and towns say their needs also are great, and they’re asking Congress for help.

“Our transportation network is a knot of congestion and disrepair, our broadband and connectivity lags behind the rest of the world, families drink from bottled water in the absence of safe tap water, and all the while, federal partnership for infrastructure has faltered, allowing America to fall behind an ever-increasing demand,” the league posted on its website.

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Jenni Bergal

Jenni Bergal covers transportation, infrastructure and cybersecurity for Stateline. She has been a reporter at Kaiser and the Center for Public Integrity.