If Keystone would help the economy, what about upgrading our infrastructure?

Whether you are for or against the Keystone XL pipeline, The Sun's recent article revealed what $1 dollar spent on infrastructure can return to the economy ("Nebraska Court OKs route for Keystone pipeline," Jan. 10).

This $5.3 billion project will produce 3,900 construction jobs and 38,000 support jobs — but only 35 full-time jobs when completed.


Each dollar spent on infrastructure multiplies as it travels through the economy. Valerie Ramey, an economics professor at UC San Diego, puts that fiscal multiplier anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5; others have pegged it as high as 1-to-2.

The American Society of Civil Engineers Report on Infrastructure stated that we need $3.6 trillion to bring the condition of our roads, bridges, tunnels, underground utilities, harbors and airports to good condition. The ASCE gives our nation's infrastructure an overall rating of D+. What would you say if your child came home with a D+ report card?

But in the federal 2015 budget being discussed by Congress, infrastructure is given short shrift; it includes only $302 billion for a four-year surface reauthorization program to improve the country's roadways, bridges and tunnels, transit systems and railways.

Those of us who commute on crowded, cracked and crumbling roadways or file into single lanes when underground water or sewer lines are being repaired wonder why this national priority has not been given the funding it needs.

Besides the obvious decent wages construction workers earn, local sources such as rental equipment, materials, food purchased from venders, gasoline for cars, possibly new boots or outdoor clothing are created. We can see how the multiplier works on a small scale. Add supervision, home office expenses of the contractors, etc., and it increases.

As Detroit emerged from bankruptcy in 2014, it was determined that its existing power grid will require $200 million to modernize. And that's just one city in the U.S. How many more cities need upgrades to maintain a stable national power grid? What will be cost be, where will the funding come from and what will be the cost of delaying repairs?

Motorists take more than 200 million trips over deficient roads bridges every day. One in nine of our nation's bridges have been rated structurally deficient. Think about the next time you cross one of those bridges on your way to work.

Sidney M. Levy, Baltimore