The Important Value of Infrastructure – In Dollars and Sense

The Important Value of Infrastructure – In Dollars and Sense

As the U.S. Representative for Indiana’s First Congressional District, one of my immediate priorities is to advocate for robust and timely investments in our nation’s infrastructure.

By Frank J. Mrvan, United States Representative, First Congressional District of Indiana.

The health pandemic of this past year has highlighted the importance that we must continue to place on our physical health, on our mental health, and also on the health of our economy.  I supported the American Rescue Plan in March in order to provide direct and tangible relief to individuals, families, and communities.  Specifically, this law invested $20 billion in a coordinated, nationwide vaccine program, and also provided $130 billion for schools to safely open and assist children.  Additionally, this law provided direct relief to states, counties, cities, and towns to assist them in addressing the economic impact of COVID-19, reinitiate government services, and provide premium pay to essential workers.

We must now build on the momentum of the American Rescue Plan to improve the health of our economy and create more opportunities for good-paying jobs through investments in our infrastructure.

There are incredible economic assets in our state and in Northwest Indiana that we must capitalize on in order to build an economy that works for everyone.  For example, the recent investments of over a billion dollars into the South Shore Rail Line will transform the availability of good-paying jobs in the Northwest Indiana economy.  The West Lake expansion project and the Double Track project will attract new people and businesses to our state.  As people are able to travel more quickly and safely into Chicago, and as more commuter rail stations are built, we must harness this economic activity to create new transportation hubs, new business developments, and new good-paying jobs.

A similar story can be told about the Gary/Chicago International Airport.  Major initiatives and investments have been completed at the airport in the past decade, including the completion of the extension of their runway and the establishment of a U.S. Customs facility.  As a result of these investments, more new economic activity is happening at the airport and in the surrounding areas.  We must continue to work with City of Gary Mayor Jerome Prince and all the airport officials to continue to harness these investments to transform this area and create a hub for new businesses and good-paying jobs.

I also believe that we have an incredible asset and advocate in the Biden/Harris Administration with fellow Hoosier Pete Buttigieg as the Secretary of Transportation.  He is well familiar with the value of making investments in our transportation and economic infrastructure, including his work to grow the commuter rail and airport systems in South Bend.  Secretary Buttigieg’s knowledge of the value of the participation of local municipalities in unlocking federal dollars will be of incredible value as we move forward with his initiatives in the Biden/Harris Administration and the ultimate creation and implementation of transportation infrastructure legislation.

As we move forward, while I share the concern that we must focus on the costs of implementing public infrastructure projects, let us remember that there is also a cost of doing nothing.  This public-health emergency has reminded us that health, safety, and economic prosperity are inextricably linked and we must remember this lesson as we work to continue to build a more equitable economy that works for everyone.

Category Features, Last Word