Here’s how the US should choose which infrastructure projects to start

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American infrastructure was once the envy of the world. But for decades now it has been left to age and decay, hampering our competitiveness and reducing safety, productivity, and efficiency for consumers and businesses alike. Today, the nation that marshalled the efforts of the public and private sectors to build the Transcontinental Railroad in the 19th century and the Interstate Highway in the 20th century must again rally around the national priority of infrastructure investment. We must modernize the physical platform of our economy for the 21st century—and this year, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do it.

After years of talking about failing infrastructure, we finally have the bipartisan buy-in, political will, and public support to do something about it. The president has pledged to act on this priority—and the public supports it. According to a new U.S. Chamber poll, fully 70 percent of Americans want the federal government to invest in infrastructure. By similar margins, the poll showed that Americans understand that infrastructure investment will grow the economy, help businesses, and create jobs.

That was the driving message of Infrastructure Week, an annual series of events dedicated to improving our crumbling system that took place this week. The U.S. Chamber, which helped found I-Week 5 years ago, kicked off the week's activities at our headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday, hosting high-profile leaders including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Some 100 other events took place around the country. We hope this nationwide week of education and advocacy has helped inform the debate and drive momentum for action this year.

Indeed, the debate over what an infrastructure modernization package should look like is now heating up in Washington. The Chamber is ready to work closely with Congress and the White House to advance an ambitious plan, and we're going to be advocating for three core priorities for a final infrastructure package. First, projects should be selected and funded based on their potential to support long-term economic growth—and prioritized based on what helps the entire country, not what serves parochial interests. This means we must build or rebuild highways and bridges, airports and seaports, rail lines and water ways, pipelines and power grids, and a broadband network that will allow rural America to connect to the rest of the nation digitally as well as physically

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