What presidential candidates are saying about America's crumbling infrastructure

A highway and city blueprints.
A highway and city blueprints. Illustrated | Gettyimages
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Infrastructure in the United States has been at a breaking point for decades. The recent collapse of an overpass on the I-95 interstate in Philadelphia created a traffic nightmare for one of the country's busiest highways and shined a light on America's ongoing infrastructure problems. The American Society of Civil Engineers has graded the nation's infrastructure a "C-" on its annual report card.

President Biden has made repairing U.S. infrastructure one of his administration's most visible goals. In November 2021, he signed a bipartisan, $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law, which was "aimed at improving the country's roads, bridges, pipes, ports and internet connections." During the signing ceremony, per The New York Times, Biden said his message was that "America is moving again, and your life is going to change for the better."

A year after the legislation's signing, the White House said the bill had implemented "$185 billion in funding and over 6,900 specific projects, reaching over 4,000 communities across all 50 states, D.C., and the territories." Despite this, accidents such as the I-95 collapse show that aging infrastructure remains a significant hurdle in the United States. With the 2024 election just a year and a half away, what is President Biden, along with the major GOP candidates, pledging to do about infrastructure in the next four years?

'A windfall at the ballot box'

Biden previously touted "infrastructure week" as a sticking point of his first year in office, but in the 2022 State of the Union, he said he was "now talking about an infrastructure decade." The president has pledged "local improvements to 65,000 miles of roads, repairs for 1,500 bridges, [and] a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations" among 4,000 upcoming infrastructure projects, Bloomberg reported.

Biden "hopes there will be a windfall at the ballot box in 2024" because of the passing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Peter Nicholas and Scott Wong wrote for NBC News, and he will "make a case that lives are improving in discernible ways" as a result. However, this could prove a problematic sell because "rebuilding tunnels, railways and highways takes time — so much time that any hope of a swift political dividend vanishes," the pair added.

Others, though, have expressed more optimism given that projects based on the infrastructure bill are getting underway, which could give Biden a big talking point for 2024. "We know that local transportation agencies have a lot of projects and are ready to start investing the money right away," Transportation Department Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg said in 2021, but added that "we want to be careful on setting expectations."

'Safe and affordable living'

The majority of the 2024 Republican candidates have, up until now, been quiet when it comes to their own plans for infrastructure, though many in the GOP had previously criticized Biden's bill. Donald Trump, who had pledged a $1 trillion spending package of his own that never materialized, has said he wants to build futuristic "Freedom Cities" if reelected. Trump claims these will be a "quantum leap" in American living, and will create an "ultra-streamlined federal regulatory framework specifically for new Freedom Cities, which will lead to the invention of new industries and provide Americans with safe and affordable living," his campaign website says.

The only other GOP candidate who appears to have put forth an infrastructure platform is Asa Hutchinson, who said it was "long past time for a nationally robust infrastructure package." The "highways, roads, and bridges across this country are in desperate need of repair," he added on his website, noting that "Republicans on Capitol Hill support this endeavor, but they do not...support the out-of-control and unnecessary spending promoted by national Democrats." Fixing the nation's infrastructure "can be accomplished without abandoning our responsibility to the American taxpayers," Hutchinson said.

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