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The COVID-19 pandemic is putting all of us to the test emotionally and financially.

We are praying for loved ones fighting the virus and grieving for those close to our hearts who are no longer with us. And we are doing what we can to support the health workers and first-responders battling around the clock to keep us safe.

Portrait of Darius Assemi

Darius Assemi

Opinion

Right now, we should be spending all the resources needed on the healthcare front to fight COVID and as fast as possible. This means ramping up the production of masks, ventilators, test kits, therapeutic drugs, and vaccines.

Without our health and safety, our economy doesn’t mean much. And no economic recovery can bring back any of our lost neighbors, friends, and family.

America’s Innovators Provide Reason for Optimism

But, after we allocate all the necessary resources for our healthcare needs, we should also look at this crisis as an opportunity to update our national infrastructure. That will help drive our economy after we have defeated COVID.

I am confident that we will overcome this challenge. And, when we do, America will be poised to prosper as never before, with citizens in every economic class enjoying more fruits from their labors.

Why am I so optimistic in the face of the mounting death toll, soaring unemployment, and staggering stock-market losses?

America’s innovators are stepping up to fill the medical needs of coronavirus patients with treatments at lightning speed.

Factories are being converted and old equipment, such as ventilators, are being upgraded to join the fight.

We are seeing innovation in every corner of our country. Here in Fresno, Clovis, and other Valley communities, people are coming together to help others. From retooling their shops to make face shields and masks, to delivering food and clean laundry to healthcare workers for free.

This is one of the many reasons I cherish being an American! U.S. ingenuity is what will get us through this crisis at record speed!

Photo of a man wearing a face shield that he made giving the thumbs-up sign

The Pi Shop in downtown Fresno provides an example of American innovation during the pandemic. The shop is now producing face shields to protect healthcare workers. (GV Wire/Jamie Ouverson)

Infrastructure Investments Can Relaunch Our Economy

Fortunately, America’s elected leaders have joined in a rare bipartisan effort to shore up and then kick-start our economy.

Infrastructure isn’t a politically sexy word. Nor is it at the top of most politicians’ do-lists. But infrastructure — roads, highways, bridges, canals, dams, rail lines, and airports — is the backbone of our economy. And, for too long, government at all levels has paid too little attention to it.

In addition to the $2.2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, there is a federal move afoot to invest $2 trillion in our nation’s infrastructure.

Perhaps you saw that the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been talking about it.

Infrastructure isn’t a politically sexy word. Nor is it at the top of most politicians’ do-lists.

But infrastructure — roads, highways, bridges, canals, dams, rail lines, and airports — is the backbone of our economy. And, for too long, government at all levels has paid too little attention to it.

Record-Low Interest Rates Offer Opportunity to Rebuild America

Now, with interest rates at record lows and with America needing a well-thought-out plan to recover from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to expand our transportation corridors and make us safer, too.

When we spend dollars on infrastructure, not only do we create jobs by building these networks, we also create incredible connectivity, efficiency, and safety for all Americans.

For example, if we were to widen Highway 180 West to Interstate 5 or make Highway 99 six lanes from Bakersfield to Sacramento, we would enhance mobility for goods and services, including to our coastal ports, while dramatically increasing the safety of commuters and truckers.

Improving the Lives of Rural Valley Residents

For residents in rural western Fresno County — many of them battling poverty and lacking access to 21st-century technology, the much-needed upgrade to 180 would light the fuse for a robust economy that elevates the quality of their lives.

Hopefully, this proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill would override a California law going into effect July 1 that makes the widening of highways significantly more expensive.

While the law (SB 743) is well-intentioned in that it hopes to reduce air emissions by cutting down on vehicle miles, it leaves many impoverished people behind. And, it ignores the new green automotive technologies that are rapidly reducing or eliminating harmful emissions into our air.

Join me in urging our congressional representatives and President Trump to work hard in the days ahead and turn this $2 trillion infrastructure proposal into reality — and prosperity — for all of us.

I know you might be thinking, why would we even consider this when the Trump administration wants to roll back vehicle mileage standards? But the truth is, the automotive industry is accelerating its electric-car efforts. For example, General Motors says it aims to sell 1 million electric cars a year in the U.S. and China by 2025.

One type of infrastructure I haven’t mentioned is water-treatment plants. But they are critical to ensuring that every American, and especially those in rural Valley communities, have clean, safe drinking water.

Rebuilding and expanding our ports is important, too. Combined with freeways and rail lines, ports are launching pads to exporting America’s products and importing the goods we all desire.

Photo of water coming out of a faucet against a backdrop of blue skies

Any future economic recovery bills passed by Congress should include funding for water-treatment plans providing clean, safe water for rural communities. (Shutterstock)

Clean, Safe Water for All and Drought Protection

Finally, this bill could help California expand and improve its water conveyance and water-storage systems. With infrastructure that enables us to save more water and, just as important, more efficiently move water to where it needs to be, we protect ourselves from droughts.

Most of all, we ensure that more water is available for residents, farmers, and the environment.

Join me in urging our congressional representatives and President Trump to work hard in the days ahead and turn this $2 trillion infrastructure proposal into reality — and prosperity — for all of us.

About the Author 

Darius Assemi is the publisher of GV Wire and president/CEO of Granville Homes.

 

2 Responses

  1. Jass

    Wow, this is a fantastic article! Not only is infrastructure vital, but let us not forget that after WW2, the New Deal expanded the nation’s infrastructure. What we are going through right now cannot be compared to a war, but its consequences that include death and the ruination of an economy certainly follow a similar trail. The New Deal’s legacy entails infrastructure that not only saved America’s economy, but transformed this country!

    Reply
  2. Matthew Woodward

    I appreciate the sentiment of your article, but we can’t ignore the fact that by building more freeways, we are worsening our local air pollution problem. New transportation infrastructure doesn’t have to be new and wider freeways, it can also be new rail, bus, or even bike facilities too.

    Our region may have High-Speed rail on the distant horizon, but in the meantime, how do we connect communities like Mendota across the valley to each other without requiring car ownership? We currently have the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency, but bus rides currently take hours longer to complete than by driving.

    Why not build a network of Bus Rapid Transit Routes going from community to community in the valley? They could either just run in line with traffic, or run in their own lanes on the major highways. This way, when High-Speed Rail is completed(finally), our entire region will be more connected rather than just the cities along Hwy 99.

    New infrastructure is important but let’s not forget that our region has terrible air quality that hasn’t been properly addressed for generations.

    Reply

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