There weren’t many points of agreement between the two contenders in the brutal 2016 presidential campaign, but the need to invest in infrastructure offered a rare moment of harmony.

That’s why we expect Congress to put forward a massive public works bill, an issue that should receive strong bipartisan support.

Since Election Day, the president-elect has renewed his commitment to this kind of investment, and his rhetorical focus has on building roads, bridges and airports, a 21st-century reprise of the massive interstate highway system project started during the Eisenhower administration.

That kind of investment is important, but the new administration should not stop there. It’s time for a real 21st-century infrastructure program: one that focuses on bringing high-speed, broadband internet to rural areas.

Reliable internet service is as important to economic development today as the highway system was in the 1950s. Connecting rural areas to the world creates business opportunities in places that have lost traditional jobs. More people move to areas that have high-speed internet capacity, and they often bring jobs with them.

Broadband investment also provides more opportunities to start new businesses, and not just ones in “tech” fields. Retail, hospitality, agriculture, medicine and a wide range of other enterprises rely on their ability to share information quickly and dependably.

A strong commitment to rural infrastructure would bring the economic recovery into areas that have been left behind during the economic recovery that started in 2009. Places like rural Maine, which have been hard hit by a loss of manufacturing jobs, would benefit more from investment in high-speed internet in their towns than they would from expensive airport overhauls in New York or Boston.

Internet expansion has a proven impact on economic development. According to a study by the Information & Technology and Innovation Foundation, 250,000 jobs are created for every $5 billion in infrastructure development; with every percentage point increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000 jobs.

Maine was the beneficiary of a major investment in broadband infrastructure with the 2012 construction of the Three Ring Binder, a 1,100-mile system of fiber optic cable that was built with a $25.4 million federal grant and $7 million in private investment. The project provides the core of a 10-gigabit network that serves 110,000 homes, but it passes by many more that don’t have the ability to connect.

“It’s like having a highway with no exit ramps,” said Maine Sen. Angus King, an advocate for rural broadband expansion. “We’ve got a tremendous backbone, but we need to solve the ‘last-mile’ problem.”

King, an independent, has assembled a bipartisan group of senators in the Senate Broadband Caucus, which is working to get places like rural Maine connected with the rest of the world. He says that there is no one solution for the problem, but there is a need for public investment and policies that encourage private entities to complete the system.

A major infrastructure program that does not put significant resources into rural broadband will not do for 21st-century America what the highway program did for this nation in the 20th.

King and his colleagues should keep pushing to let the whole country benefit from the economic opportunity that has been unleashed by the information revolution.

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