When you listen to experts talk about the importance of infrastructure spending, they often focus on jobs and economic growth. It’s understandable. What doesn’t get as much attention is the impact that a modernized and modernized infrastructure can have on keeping American citizens safe.
At Nucor Corporation, safety is our # 1 cultural value. We know that our success begins when every member of our team comes home from work every day. If we cannot operate safely, we cannot be profitable or provide the best service to our customers. Our goal is to eliminate injuries from our teammates. We want to be the safest steel company in the world.
Our country should also strive to reduce injuries by building the best infrastructure in the world.
The state of our infrastructure in the United States poses a real risk to the security of all of us. We still operate on roads and bridges designed and built in the 1950s and 1960s. Of the more than 600,000 bridges in the United States, nearly 50,000 are structurally deficient and need to be replaced. Americans make nearly 180 million daily crossings on these bridges.
Poor infrastructure can have life or death consequences. More than a decade ago, commuters returning home to Minneapolis in the late summer afternoon were killed and seriously injured when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed. Earlier this year, millions of Texas residents faced enormous risks from freezing and running out of water when the power grid failed in extreme weather conditions. People died and became seriously ill from carbon monoxide poisoning as they tried to stay warm.
It’s hard to believe we haven’t learned our lesson after the shocking bridge collapse in Minneapolis. We cannot make the same mistake again in the wake of the devastation across Texas last winter.
Our nation’s poor infrastructure recently received a C-minus rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was a slight improvement after years of receiving D ratings, but hardly a rating worth celebrating, especially when you think about safety. Anything below the A average should be unacceptable to all elected officials in the United States when it comes to the welfare of their constituents.
The good news is that President Joe Biden has come up with a bold infrastructure finance plan. His plan provides more than $ 600 billion to modernize our bridges, highways, highways, waterways and transit systems. Part of this money is intended to improve road safety. The plan also contains $ 100 billion for our energy infrastructure. This funding can help us repair or replace these structurally deficient bridges so that we don’t have another disaster when people just drive home from work, as well as make our electricity grid more resilient to extreme weather conditions.
If we do not seize this opportunity to finally repair our infrastructure, we not only lose economic growth and job creation, but we also jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of our citizens. Now is the time to seize the opportunity and make a significant investment in our infrastructure that will help keep Americans safe.
Michael D. Lee is vice president and general manager of Nucor Steel Berkeley.