Rebuilding Schools, Bridges—and Lives

It only takes a moment talking to Emily Galvin, an apprentice with Ironworkers Local 7 in Boston, to grasp how her first year learning the skilled trades has transformed her life. For one, she has a fresh understanding of the anatomy of a city—of roads, bridges and buildings. She’s taking classes in structural steel, tension, rebar and labor history. “I love how we use mats of rebar,” Ms. Galvin says, “to make reinforced concrete for floors or knee-walls, like for a parking garage.”

As unions, businesses, engineers and policy makers celebrate Infrastructure Week from May 14-21, we’re reflecting on the investments that add value to America. For every dollar a country spends on public infrastructure, it gets back nearly $3, according to a 2014 study from the International Monetary Fund.

Keep this in mind when you hear that the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, has called for $2 trillion to repair, renovate or replace water lines, public schools, bridges and mass transit systems. On top of that, another $2 trillion could make America the global leader in the infrastructure technologies of the future, such as high-speed rail and smart utilities.

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