NEWS

America’s Almost Failing “Infrastructure Report Card”

In the latest Infrastructure Report Card produced by the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE), The state of America’s infrastructure received a D+ in overall quality. The report recommended $4.59 trillion in investments by 2025 in order to bring infrastructure to “good repair;” current spending levels would miss this mark by $2 trillion. The report estimated that, on average, $3,400 is lost by each American family due to poor infrastructure, with costs ranging from car repairs to wasted time and gas.

Flood damaged road in Putnam County, Tennessee (Wikimedia/Brian Stansberry)

The report analyzed and graded a variety of different sectors of infrastructure, from schools to dams to ports and public parks. The lowest grade, a D-, went to transit, due to a $90 billion rehabilitation backlog, demand exceeding system capacity, and aging infrastructure. America’s rail system topped the scores with a B grade; the report cited that the system received $27.1 billion in capital investments to maintain freight and passenger rail, while recommending more private investment, increasing speed limits, and continuing the Railroad Track Maintenance Tax Credit. The report card also provided three recommendations: investment, leadership, and “preparing for the future,” to solve the deficiencies in American infrastructure. The ASCE recommend increasing total private and public spending on infrastructure from 2.5% to 3.5% of GDP, as well as increasing gasoline and diesel taxes to match inflation. Leadership recommendations included increasing private sector involvement and mandatory use of life-cycle analysis for projects over $5 million. Lastly, the report recommended preparing for the future by investing in resiliency programs for natural disasters, accounting for technological trends when investing, and supporting R&D.

Compared to the 2013 Report card, few categories have moved beyond a fraction of a grade. The 2013 report card marked an overall “GPA” of D+ for the US, with levees and inland waterways having the lowest score at a D-, solid waste infrastructure topped scores with a B-, and $3.6 trillion was the amount recommended to shore up US infrastructure.

The ASCE is comprised of 28 volunteer civil engineers with “decades of expertise.” The ASCE evaluates America’s infrastructure using a variety of criteria, including ‘capacity and future need’ and ‘resilience and innovation’, and then provides a grade ranging from an A which represents, “Exceptional, Fit for the future,” to an F, which represents “Failing/Critical, Unfit for Purpose.”

Sources and Further Reading:

  1. 2017 Infrastructure Report Card – ASCE
  2. Civil Engineers Give U.S. Infrastructure A Near Failing Grade – NPR
  3. US infrastructure report card: D+ – The Hill
  4. S. infrastructure gets D-plus grade in civil engineers’ report card, again – Reuters
  5. Trump promised $1 trillion for infrastructure, but the estimated need is $4.5 trillion – Washington Post
  6. Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future – ASCE
  7. Report Card History – ASCE