The U.S. infrastructure system needs an infusion of $2.2 trillion over the next five years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said in its 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. ASCE gave the U.S. infrastructure a total grade of D, with the roads receiving a grade of D-.

“The Report Card is an assessment by professional engineers of the nation's status in 15 categories of infrastructure,” ASCE said. “In 2009, all signs point to an infrastructure that is poorly maintained, unable to meet current and future demands, and in some cases, unsafe.

“Since the last Report Card in 2005, the grades have not improved,” the report continued. “ASCE estimates the nation still stands at a D average. Deteriorating conditions and inflation have added hundreds of billions to the total cost of repairs and needed upgrades. ASCE's current estimate is $2.2 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion in 2005.”

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The U.S. infrastructure system needs an infusion of $2.2 trillion over the next five years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) said in its 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. ASCE gave the U.S. infrastructure a total grade of D, with the roads receiving a grade of D-.

“The Report Card is an assessment by professional engineers of the nation's status in 15 categories of infrastructure,” ASCE said. “In 2009, all signs point to an infrastructure that is poorly maintained, unable to meet current and future demands, and in some cases, unsafe.

“Since the last Report Card in 2005, the grades have not improved,” the report continued. “ASCE estimates the nation still stands at a D average. Deteriorating conditions and inflation have added hundreds of billions to the total cost of repairs and needed upgrades. ASCE's current estimate is $2.2 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion in 2005.”

The only categories to grade higher than a C- were Solid Waste, which received a C+, and Bridges, which was awarded a C. Ten of the 15 categories were graded as D or worse.

In response to the report, ASCE offered five solutions it said would not solve the problem overnight but would deliver real and positive change to the U.S. infrastructure system. The solutions are:

  • Increase federal leadership in infrastructure through a national vision shared by all levels of government and the private sector. ASCE noted that the federal government led the building of great infrastructure projects such as New Deal programs, the Interstate Highway System and the Clean Water Act, but federal leadership in this area has decreased in the time since and infrastructure has suffered.
  • The country should focus on sustainability and resiliency when meeting the ongoing needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food, transportation, shelter and effective waste management, thereby ensuring that transportation systems, water treatment systems, and flood control systems will be able to withstand current and future challenges and hazards. ASCE also noted that research and development dollars from the federal level are necessary to assist with sustainable development practices.
  • Develop plans on a federal, regional and state level prioritized and executed according to the national vision and focus on system-wide outputs, centered on freight and passenger mobility, intermodality, water use, environmental stewardship and encouraging resiliency and sustainability, as well as solutions to meet the demand for increased infrastructure capacity.
  • Perform life-cycle cost analysis and ongoing maintenance to account for initial construction, operation, maintenance, environmental, safety and other costs reasonably anticipated during the life of the project and keep the system functioning safely and at a satisfactory level.
  • Develop and authorize innovative financing programs on top of federal investment, including ensuring that those who utilize infrastructure are willing to pay an appropriate price for its use.

The recently-passed U.S. stimulus bill signed into law this week by President Obama provides $64.1 billion for transportation and infrastructure investment.