INFRASTRUCTURE: America’s Infrastructure Earns D+ Grade on National Report Card

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released its 2013 Report Card for America?s Infrastructure, a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s infrastructure across 16 sectors. Updated once every four years, this year’s Report Card found that America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+ from a D in 2009. The Report Card estimates total investment needs at $3.6 trillion by 2020 across all 16 sectors, leaving a funding shortfall of $1.6 trillion based on current funding levels.

The grades in 2013 range from a high of B- for solid waste infrastructure to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. None of the categories received a lower grade than in 2009; however near-failing grades continue to be seen in numerous sectors that are crucial to the economy and Americans’ quality of life.
Encouraging trends were found in sectors where focused investments were made. Six sectors (solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, bridges and rail) each experienced incremental improvements since the last assessment.

Key trends driving improvements included:

  • Renewed efforts in cities and states to address deficient roads, bridges, drinking water and wastewater systems
  • Private investment for efficiency and connectivity brought improvements in the nation’s railways, ports, and energy grid
  • Several categories benefited from short-term boosts in federal funding.

“A D+ is simply unacceptable for anyone serious about strengthening our nation’s economy; however, the 2013 Report Card shows that this problem can be solved,” said ASCE president Gregory E. DiLoreto. “If we want to create jobs, increase trade and assure the safety of our children, then infrastructure investment is the answer.”

For the first time, the 2013 Report Card includes information for all 50 states and highlights initiatives and innovations that are making a difference. For example, Oklahoma created a plan to replace or rehabilitate more than 950 structurally deficient bridges between 2013 and 2020. Philadelphia implemented a program to improve resiliency and address combined sewer overflows using green infrastructure, capable of capturing water from all but the most severe storms.

“We must commit today to investing in modern, efficient infrastructure systems to position the U.S. for economic prosperity,” added DiLoreto. “Infrastructure can either be the engine for long-term economic growth and employment, or, it can jeopardize our nation’s standing if poor roads, deficient bridges and failing waterways continue to hurt our economy.”

Water and Wastewater Findings:

Drinking water systems improved slightly to a grade of D. Frequent water main breaks, pipes and mains that are frequently more than 100 years old are reaching the end of their life cycle and require significant investment and continue to account for the low grade.

Wastewater systems also improved slightly to a grade of D. Capital investment needs for the nation’s wastewater and storm water systems, namely to fix and expand pipes to address sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer overflows, and other pipe-related issues, are estimated to total $298 billion over the next 20 years.

To view the full 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, please visit www.infrastructurereportcard.org.

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