The US construction industry is already disappointed by the new president after his promised $825bn infrastructure programme is watered down
In December, Barack Obama announced he would be introducing an $825bn (£600bn) public works programme in the US to rebuild the country's infrastructure system - providing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. But after only one-third of the budget was actually allocated to infrastructure in the plan – and only two days into Obama's presidency – hopes of marked change to the country's road and rail networks are fading fast.
The American Society of Civil Engineers has said that the proposed spending of $30bn (£22bn) on roads and $10bn (£7bn) on rail services is nowhere near enough to make a difference. The organisation estimates that a more realistic sum for improving US infrastructure would be a massive $1,600bn (£1,160bn).
Only two days into Obama's presidency, hopes of marked change to the country's road and rail networks are fading fast
“It's a drop in the bucket,” says Robert D Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association.
Edward Rendell, a democratic governor in Pennsylvania, has formed a group called Building America's future, alongside New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. He told the New York Times that Obama's initial infrastructure plan is a step in the right direction but there is still a long way to go: “Anybody who thinks that this is the answer to America's infrastructure needs is in a different universe.”
Obama's initial infrastructure plan is a step in the right direction but there is still a long way to go
Where the extra money for infrastructure development being called for will come from, or what Obama will do to address the criticism, remains unclear at this stage. But one thing is for sure - this is one sector already unimpressed by some of the new president's proposals.
But despite negativity from some, there are those in the industry who are also singing the president's praises. Ahmad Rahimian, president of US-based structural engineer WSP Cantor Seinuk, says: “President Obama delivered an inspiring speech calling all of us into action by invoking the nation's strength in its history, and diversity in its civic fabric combined with the promise of transparency and accountability. We are concerned but cautiously excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, moving forward through this economic storm and hopefully rising stronger and healthier while strengthening the commerce and economy in US and having a positive impact throughout the world.”