In his State of the Union address, President Obama revealed his “Fix It First” plan for repairing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Infrastructure expert and author Barry LePatner explains why he fully supports the president’s plan.
New York, NY (February 2013)—Fix it first. With these three simple words, in Tuesday night’s State of the Union, President Obama laid out a $50-billion infrastructure plan that would focus on repairing the nation’s most in-need roads and bridges. It was music to the ears of author and infrastructure expert Barry LePatner.
“I was very pleased to hear about the president’s ‘Fix It First’ plan,” says LePatner, creator of www.SaveOurBridges.com and author of Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (www.TooBigToFall.com). “As many policymakers, infrastructure experts, and those in the construction industry know, I’ve been insisting we address our dire infrastructure needs since the I-35W Bridge tragically collapsed in Minneapolis in August 2007.
“I strongly encourage Congress to approve this spending. It is simply not true that there is no money for infrastructure investment. Over the years, politicians have channeled their allotted federal funds to build new projects that lead to ribbon-cutting ceremonies, publicity, and votes. Repair projects just haven’t been sexy enough.”
U.S. bridges can be repaired without impacting the deficit, insists LePatner. Repairing the 2,000 bridges that are both structurally deficient and fracture-critical and carry more than 25,000 vehicles a day (i.e., those most in danger of collapse) would cost an estimated $30-60 billion and would put 1.2 million construction workers back to work. These workers, many of whom would be coming off of unemployment, would pay back 30 percent of their money earned in income taxes, and much of the rest would be pumped back into the economy through their consumer spending. That spending would turn into income for countless others and demand for new products would soar.
LePatner thinks Americans have a right to know just how bad the nation’s infrastructure has gotten. That’s why he recently created SaveOurBridges.com, a site he hopes will not only educate the public on the dangerous bridges in their communities but will help bring attention to an issue that has been continuously ignored by the nation’s policymakers. The site pinpoints the 7,980 bridges in the U.S. that are both structurally deficient and fracture-critical, just as the I-35W Bridge was prior to its collapse. It also allows visitors to search by zip code or city and state to find the dangerous bridges in their area.
“I have long been calling for our nation’s politicians to provide leadership on this issue and couple it with the political will to get the job going toward needed infrastructure remediation,” says LePatner. “With ‘Fix It First,’ the president is taking a bold and necessary move. We can no longer treat our infrastructure as a second- or third-tier priority when it comes to funding. President Obama seems to understand, and the rest of the nation needs to know that the risks we face are not limited to the dangers they cause to the traveling public. They include jeopardizing our country’s entire commercial sector as well as our national security network.
“I hope the nation’s other leaders realize that they can’t wait any longer to provide the needed funding to make our bridges safe,” he concludes. “They must act now. Concrete, steel, and money aren’t the only things at stake. Lives are at stake. Nothing is more important than that.”
About Barry B. LePatner:
Barry B. LePatner is founder of the New York City-based law firm LePatner & Associates LLP. He is author of Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets: How to Fix America’s Trillion-Dollar Construction Industry (University of Chicago Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-2264726-7-6, $25.00, www.BarryLePatner.com) and Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (University Press of New England, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-9844978-0-5, $27.95, www.TooBigToFall.com).
He recently launched www.SaveOurBridges.com, a site educating the public on the perilous state of the nation’s infrastructure. The site includes an interactive map pinpointing the most dangerous bridges in the U.S.
For three decades, he has been prominent as an advisor on business and legal issues affecting the real estate, design, and construction industries. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading advisors to corporate and institutional clients, real estate owners, and design professionals. Mr. LePatner has also been awarded the distinction of Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine. In 2009, he was rated as one of the top ten real estate attorneys in New York City by the New York Observer.
A November 2007 Governing magazine article stated, “If there’s a guru of construction industry reform, it’s LePatner.” In November 2008, an article in New York magazine referred to Mr. LePatner as “a Cassandra of infrastructure.”
Mr. LePatner is recognized as a thought leader in the construction industry. As the coauthor of Structural and Foundation Failures (McGraw-Hill, 1982) and with 35 years of experience as a construction lawyer, he brings a special understanding of the engineering, business, and legal issues attendant to the design and construction processes—knowledge he put to good use in his latest book, Too Big to Fall. His second book, Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets, was very well received inside and outside the construction industry and helped create a national debate among owners, designers, and other key stakeholders.
Mr. LePatner has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Forbes.com, the Chicago Tribune, Infrastructurist.com, and other prestigious publications. His articles and speeches on the perilous state of our nation’s infrastructure have garnered widespread attention, including his serving as a commentator on the multi-billion-dollar stimulus plan of the Obama administration. He has appeared on many television and radio broadcasts, including interviews on CNBC, Fox Business Network, and several National Public Radio segments.
A nationally recognized speaker, Mr. LePatner has addressed audiences on topics central to the real estate and construction industries, including events sponsored by the International Economic Forum of the Americas, Syracuse University, and several construction industry associations with audiences including contractors, architects, engineers, construction technology experts, economic experts, and other construction industry thought leaders.
In 2002, Mr. LePatner was honored by the American Institute of Architects with its highest award to a non-architect when he was given an honorary AIA membership. He is also currently on
the Board of Trustees of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). He has also served on numerous advisory committees including: the Advisory Board, Society for Marketing Professional Services; the Board of the New York Building Congress; Board of Advisors, Legal Briefs for the Construction Industry; American Institute of Architects Advisory Committee; and the National Academy of Sciences.
About the Books:
Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (University Press of New England, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-9844978-0-5, $27.95, www.TooBigToFall.com) and Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets: How to Fix America’s Trillion-Dollar Construction Industry (University of Chicago Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-2264726-7-6, $25.00, www.BarryLePatner.com) are available at bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.