The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s infrastructure an overall grade point average of D+ across sixteen categories — up slightly from the D in its last report in 2009 and the first improvement since the group started its report card in 1998.
“Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and under-investment across most categories,” the ASCE said in its 2013 report card , released Tuesday.
While the rise to a D+ is positive, it “is still not acceptable,” the group warned.
“We are at a pivotal moment when it comes to maintaining and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure,” said ASCE president Gregory E. DiLoreto. “Many of our roads, bridges, water systems, and our national electric grid were put into place over fifty years ago, and these systems are simply overwhelmed or worn out.”
“For the most part, the problem is hidden,” said DiLoreto. “Most of us do not notice infrastructure until it stops working – when a bridge is closed causing us to be late for work, when the lights go out, or when there is no water for your morning shower.”
“But failing infrastructure is not only an inconvenience, it financially impacts our families and our country. Our infrastructure is the foundation of our economy and our quality of life, and repairing and modernizing it has exponential benefits, including: increasing our gross domestic product, growing household income, protecting jobs, and maintaining a strong U.S. position in international markets.”
“Unless we address the backlog of projects and deferred maintenance throughout the country,” DiLoreto said the cost to each American family will reach $3,100 per year in personal disposable income.
The report said $3.63 trillion is needed for infrastructure improvements overall. Currently, there is $2.02 trillion in estimated funding, resulting in a gap of $1.61 trillion, it said.
The grades for infrastructure sectors in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees.
Six infrastructure sectors benefited from either an increase in private investment, targeted efforts in cities and states to make upgrades or repairs, or from a one-time boost in federal funding, the report said. Among these were solid waste, which went to a B- from a C+ in 2009, and bridges and rail, which each rose to a C+ from a C. Three other sectors — roads, drinking water, and wastewater — were each marked up to a D from a D- in 2009.
“The 2013 report card demonstrates that we can improve the current condition of our nation’s infrastructure — when investments are made and projects move forward, the grades rise,” the ASCE said. “For example, greater private investment for efficiency and connectivity brought improvements in the rail category; renewed efforts in cities and states helped address some of the nation’s most vulnerable bridges; and, several categories benefited from short-term boosts in federal funding.”
The other 10 sectors remained the same. Ports had a C, public parks and recreation a C-, and energy a D+. Aviation, Dams, hazardous waste, schools and transit were each have Ds. Inland waterways and levees have D minuses.
No category had a decline. The report details infrastructure needs and improvements in each sector.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, founded in 1852, is the country’s oldest national civil engineering organization. It represents more than 140,000 civil engineers in private practice, government, industry, and academia who are dedicated to advancing the science and profession of civil engineering.