U.S. Infrastructure Still Hurting

U.S. Infrastructure Still Hurting

Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Marc Hermann

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released an updated assessment of the nation’s infrastructure. Their last report card, released in 2009, gave U.S. infrastructure a cumulative grade of D. This year, the grade improved to D+.

The 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure reviews 16 categories, including water, wastewater, hazardous waste, and energy. Solid waste received the highest grade: B-. Inland waterways and levees received the lowest: D-. No single category received a lower grade than four years ago, but none made significant improvement either. Grades are assigned based on the following criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

Focus on Increasing Funding

The low scores in most categories stem from delayed maintenance and insufficient investment. The ASCE estimates that an investment of $3.6 trillion is needed by 2020 to fund maintenance and improvements to essential infrastructure. Based on current trends, the estimated funding gap is more than $1.6 trillion.

State by State Reports

For the first time, the report includes infrastructure information for all 50 states. For example, among the key facts listed for Georgia, the state has 484 high hazard dams and only 4% of state regulated dams have Emergency Action Plans. Pennsylvania has nearly twice as many high hazard dams (852), but 96% of them have Emergency Action Plans.

The report estimates that both Maine and neighboring New Hampshire need approximately $1 billion in wastewater infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. New York and New Jersey are reported to need about $30 billion each to fund wastewater needs. One positive for the “Pine Tree State” was its rank of 11 in production of renewable energy. Massachusetts, by comparison, was ranked 35th, New Hampshire 32nd, Connecticut 44th, New Jersey 46th, and New York a very respectable 4th.

There’s an App for That

The complete report card, state by state reports, and more information is available at www.infrastructurereportcard.org. The report can also be accessed via an app for smartphones and tablets.

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