U.S. infrastructure grade raised from D to a D+, but problems loom

of life. It means being able to get to work easier without sitting in traffic all day long; and continuing to enjoy safe, clean and reliable drinking water anywhere in the country; and having an electrical transmission grid with fewer or no blackouts.”

Individual grades were given in the categories of aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, and wastewater. Final grades were assigned based on capacity to meet future demand, condition, funding, future needs, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

“The methodology with which this Report Card was produced was a very objective piece of work, not a bunch of people using a gut feeling, but real numbers,” stated Robert Victor, ASCE Region 2 director and chair of the advisory council for ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. “We put together a committee of about 30-plus civil engineers, and they are all technical experts in various civil engineering fields.”

“What we came up with is a good measure of the condition of our infrastructure,” says DiLoreto. “And that is important because it encourages people to recognize the condition of our infrastructure and to understand the importance of our infrastructure when it comes to not only our quality of life but also the state of our economy.”

The release notes that according to Herrmann, the Report Card concludes that to raise the grades and get our infrastructure to an acceptable level, a total investment of $3.6 trillion is needed by 2020 across the entire sixteen sectors.

Currently, only about $2 trillion in infrastructure spending is projected, leaving a shortfall of approximately $1.6 trillion.

“This is a chance for us to make it known what is happening with the infrastructure and not only point out some of the deficiencies but where we are doing things right,” says Herrmann. “For example, the bridge category went up by a half a grade [to a C+] and that is good and reflects that our cities and states have taken a concentrated view towards some of the structurally deficient bridges and started to repair them. But it is not all good when you look at some urban areas where you still have a lot of deficient bridges. So, by getting the message out with this report, we can start reducing the overall number of deficient bridges.”

“The message that we want to get out is that the Report Card is a tool that ASCE produces every four years to track the baseline of various sectors of our infrastructure,” concluded Victor. “I think that information is worth sharing and it is very good for opening people’s eyes — everyone from the general public to our legislators, the people who make our policy.”

— Read more in 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013)