Monday, Dec 9, 2013
Costello Shares Concerns on Crumbling Infrastructure
JACKSON COUNTY -- A former Southern Illinois congressman and leader on transportation issues is worried about the condition of our country's roads and bridges.
Jerry Costello spoke about infrastructure Wednesday at the SIU Transportation Education Center as part of series of lectures. Costello believes the state is doing some things right, and many of those road construction projects can be seen all over Southern Illinois.
He also says more capital development projects are needed, and leaders should be taking charge to let people know how serious the problem really is.
"It's a win-win for everybody," said Costello, "But we have to pay for it."
Transportation connects Southern Illinois to the country, carrying in everything from supplies to jobs.
"Having a good transportation system is all about improving the economy," said Costello.
Costello feels the nation's network of roads is falling apart faster than it's being fixed.
"The American people need to know that our infrastructure is deteriorating to a point were it will cost literally billions of dollars to repair if we don't start taking it serious," said Costello.
Costello spent much of his political career focused on transportation. He's still working to address the issues before they lead to problems like bridge collapses.
"607,000 bridges in the United States," said Costello, "One in four of them needs attention today."
Professor Dave NewMyer believes Costello's concerns could impact future graduates.
"We all see that there needs to be a little bit of working across the aisle to solve these infrastructure problems," said NewMyer. "If we don't, they'll suffer."
Fixing the aging system will have a big price tag, and Costello supports raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for it.
"It is still at 18.4 cents per gallon and has not been increased for 20 years," said Costello.
That would mean higher prices at the pump, but the money would be set aside strictly for improving travel.
"Instead of just increasing taxes, throwing it in the general fund to be used for anything, when you in fact pay a gasoline tax or user fee for a specific purpose," said Costello.
Costello is glad to see Illinois taking advantage of federal money for high speed rail. That project is already under construction between St. Louis and Chicago, and puts Illinois ahead of the country.
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