NLC ‘Ready to Rebuild’ Report Shines Spotlight on Urgent Infrastructure Needs of America’s Cities, Towns and Villages

June 7, 2021 - (3 min read)

Washington, D.C. – The National League of Cities (NLC) today released its new Ready to Rebuild report, featuring in-depth stories that underscore the urgent infrastructure needs of cities, towns and villages across the U.S. The local stories provide an on-the-ground examination of municipalities’ challenges related to clean water infrastructure, broadband connectivity, roads, bridges, rail, and public transit.

The snapshots of each city’s infrastructure challenges are based on interviews with local officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington. Each municipal leader made clear that their infrastructure needs have grown beyond what local governments are able to tackle alone, and that they need a strong partner in the federal government to ensure today’s challenges do not become tomorrow’s emergencies.

Among other pressing infrastructure challenges for local leaders, the report found that:

  • Students in Independence, Minnesota, were unable to participate in distance learning because the town lacks reliable internet service – despite being just 17 miles from Minneapolis.
  • The small town of Tryon, North Carolina, is facing challenges in paying for the capital needs to keep their dam and water service flowing.
  • A predominantly Black neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee that was divided by the construction of the I-40 highway in the 1960s is finally getting a chance to be reconnected.
  • A major freight rail-to-truck exchange tucked inside a neighborhood in Tukwila, Washington has freight trucks passing over the trembling, structurally deficient 42nd Avenue Bridge daily; and
  • Over 40,000 homes in Buffalo, New York use 150 miles of legacy lead water pipes that the city is working to replace but can’t get to soon enough.

“Local governments are ready to rebuild and to make their cities better places to live. They can streamline the delivery of this work because they are on the ground and have every incentive to follow through quickly,” NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony said. “Cities own most of the nation’s roads and water, and they handle the zoning and rights of way for broadband service. If Congress wants to get transportation, water and broadband projects done, there are 19,000 local governments across our great country ready to get to work.”

According to a recent NLC survey, 91% of municipal leaders say insufficient funding is their top concern when it comes to moving forward with critical infrastructure investments to support their communities. With sufficient investment, local leaders can put their plans into action to restore and enhance the condition of their infrastructure systems, supporting local jobs and opening up new opportunities for economic growth as our nation continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Congress debates President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan (AJP), which includes historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure systems, local leaders in all 19,000 cities, towns and villages are working to address their own infrastructure challenges with little or no support from Washington. NLC and its members continue to seek a strong partnership with the federal government to ensure that all American communities can recover and rebuild in a sustainable manner that will support the health, safety and economic well-being of their residents.

To view the full report and learn more about the infrastructure needs of America’s municipalities, click here.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.