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Mapped: Nearly 8,000 Future Job Sites in America?

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Experts say the work required to reinforce the US bridges most in need of repair could create 1.2 million construction jobs.

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According to engineering experts like professor Bill Miller of Temple University, who also spoke to NPR, the standards for building and evaluating many of the country's bridges were simply not as developed when the interstate system was first constructed. That "includes the materials and the level of technology for making better steel and evaluating the designs by computer animation," Miller said. "Based on that," he explained, the inventory of bridges in the US needs to be "inspected much more often than it actually is. But, of course, these are constrained by the state budgets."

LePatner, who has written a book on this subject -- Too Big To Fall: America's Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (Foster Publishing) -- has an answer to that "no money in the budget" refrain. No state can afford not to fix these bridges, he says. And dedicating public funds to the work would be a deficit-neutral way to create more than a million jobs.

"If we took only the top 2,000 of those bridges on the SaveOurBridges.com map that are most trafficked, various research shows it would take between $30 and $60 billion to do the remedial work over two years," he says in a phone interview.

"One-third of that money would come back to state and local governments, meaning $40 billion would go into increasing demand in the US for concrete, steel, and every imaginable material that goes into building a bridge."

Such a massive rebuilding push would offer jobs to 1.2 million construction workers, he estimates. New hires would be employed for an average of two years and their wages would circulate throughout communities, increasing demand for consumer goods and services that would further spur new employment.
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