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The Best Time for Infrastructure Investment? Now.

Doug Kurkul

The word from our friends and allies in the nation’s capital is that Congress may not take up major infrastructure legislation until 2019. The American Foundry Society, which advocates aggressively for the entire metalcasting industry, is part of coalition efforts to elevate the profile of this important public-policy priority, and press for enactment of an infrastructure bill in 2018 if at all possible.

In a nation of 325 million people, our infrastructure is one of our greatest assets. It is the foundation of our transportation system, water supply, jobs, quality of life, and economic competitiveness. Even our national security depends on a sound U.S. infrastructure. Experts say we currently have a $2 trillion infrastructure deficit. This includes everything from pipes to ports, roads to bridges.

Some may argue the timing is not right. As a nation, we have put infrastructure modernization on the back burner for many years, thinking the timing will be better at some point in the future. There is never a perfect time to start doing the right thing.

Make no mistake, infrastructure investment will have positive implications for the metalcasting industry. In any given year, up to 40% of all castings may go into infrastructure.

Other industries will contribute to those projects, as well. That means good work and good jobs. But the broader point is that everyone who lives, works, and travels in the United States will benefit.

AFS supports the following principles in infrastructure funding:
•    Funding should be directed towards long-term projects that focus on rebuilding our bridges, roads, waterways, railroads and energy infrastructure.
•    Unnecessarily lengthy permitting and review processes add to projects’ time and cost, while deterring the entry of private capital. These processes should be streamlined.
•    AFS believes projects should require that all iron and steel used to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure is produced in the United States, including metal castings. Domestic preference provisions should be consistent with the existing Buy America requirements for surface transportation projects.
•   AFS backs full funding for the EPA state revolving loan funds programs for water infrastructure; and for the Water Infrastructure Finance and innovation Act program that funds long-term, low-credit assistance for larger wastewater or water projects.
•     Supplementing existing tools, such as municipal bonds, should be part of the funding solutions.

On May 15-16, AFS members will mobilize for metalcasting at the 2018 Government Affairs Fly-In. Infrastructure investment will be one of the key issues on our agenda. We encourage every foundry to send a representative to the Fly-In, so we can speak with one powerful voice. Learn more or register at afsinc.org/fly-in.

Click here to read this story as it appears in the April 2018 issue of Modern Casting