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WASHINGTON, DC: The U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and 11 of his predecessors have called on the U.S. Congress to fix the country's collapsing infrastructure.

In an open letter they say the United States is "in a united state of disrepair, a crisis made worse by the fact that, over the next generation, more will be demanded of our transportation system than ever before. By 2050, this country will be home to up to 100 million new people. And we'll have to move 14 billion additional tons of freight, almost twice what we move now".

MSP bridge collapseWith 35 years of combined experience serving seven presidents the group thinks it is entitled to say: "We've been around the block. We probably helped pave it...Never in our nation's history has America's transportation system been on a more unsustainable course."

Citing the American Society of Civil Engineers, they say the U.S. needs to invest US$1.8 trillion by 2020 just to make the surface transport infrastructure "adequate".

For Congress to respond to the problem with 27 short-term measures are in their view: "No way to run a railroad, fill a pothole, or repair a bridge. In fact, the unpredictability about when, or if, funding will come has caused states to delay or cancel projects altogether.

"The result has been an enormous infrastructure deficit – a nationwide backlog of repairing and rebuilding. Right now, there are so many structurally deficient bridges in America that, if you lined them up end-to-end, they'd stretch from Boston to Miami."

Last month the National Freight Advisory Committee (NFAC) submitted a report to the DOT with 81 recommendations for a national freight strategic plan.

The committee echoed the thoughts of the Transportation secretaries by saying investment in a multimodal freight network is a national priority: "Consistent and reliable funding is vital to certainty of project implementation and completion and keeping the national freight system in a state of good repair. It is critical to the nation's global competitiveness and the health of the U.S. economy."

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