Puentes útiles

BERKELEY – Tras una nueva ronda de política de todo por el todo, un rencoroso Congreso estadounidense aprobó una ley de último minuto para evitar la quiebra del Fondo Fiduciario de Autopistas (HTP, por sus siglas en inglés), la fuente principal de fondos federales para la infraestructura de tránsito y autopistas de los Estados Unidos. El HTF financia alrededor de 50 mil millones de dólares del gasto anual en infraestructura, y su bancarrota habría obligado a los gobiernos locales y estatales a postergar miles de proyectos, amenazando así decenas de miles de empleos del sector de la construcción.

La nueva legislación ofrece una solución temporal de 11 mil millones de dólares que pospondrá la bancarrota del HTF por unos diez meses. Mediante trucos fiscales, se hace que los costos para financiar este arreglo temporal superen el plazo presupuestal arbitrario de diez años que utiliza el Congreso para justificar su responsabilidad fiscal. Sin embargo, esta legislación no cumple ninguna condición de responsabilidad fiscal.

La inversión en infraestructura pública en los Estados Unidos ha caído a menos de 2% del PIB, su nivel más bajo desde que el gobierno federal empezara a registrar este tipo de datos en 1992. La Sociedad Estadounidense de Ingenieros Civiles (ASCE, por sus siglas en inglés) otorga una calificación D+ a la infraestructura en los Estados Unidos, lo que refleja que se ha postergado el mantenimiento, así como las inversiones insuficientes. Se estima que uno de cada nueve puentes estadounidenses es estructuralmente deficiente, y 42% de las vías urbanas están congestionadas, lo que representa para la economía un costo estimado de 101 mil millones de dólares anuales en tiempo perdido y consumo de combustible. Los sistemas de tránsito deficientes y que se deterioran conllevan además 90 mil millones de dólares en costos económicos anuales.

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