America’s Infrastructure Grade: At Risk and Near Failing

America’s infrastructure is close to failing.

So says the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which released its 2017 infrastructure report card earlier this month, giving the nation’s overall infrastructure a grade of D+.

Translation: Our roads, bridges, water systems, and transit systems are in pretty bad shape.

Every 4 years, ASCE provides a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories, using a simple A to F school report card format. ASCE assessed the categories based on capacity, condition, funding, and public safety. Mass transit received the worst grade, a D-. Roads and airports received a D, the same mark as in 2013. Railroads earned a B, the highest grade given in the report. Wastewater and public parks and recreation received a D+; bridges and ports received a C+.

Startling statistics

Here are just a few of the eye-opening statistics uncovered in this year’s extensive report, available online.

  • More than 2 out of every 5 miles of the nation’s interstates are congested.
  • Traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted fuel and time, which equates to 42 wasted hours per driver a year.
  • In 2016, 56,000 of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient.
  • American’s water systems are leaking trillions of gallons of water a year.
  • By 2020, 24 of our 30 major airports are expected to experience Thanksgiving Day peak traffic levels at least once a week.

Hope on the horizon

President Donald Trump has pledged to seek up to $1 trillion in new programs to rebuild our infrastructure. Last November, voters approved 72 percent of the ballot measures seeking to raise taxes at the city, regional, and state levels to pay for transportation, light rail, rapid transit, bike paths, and other infrastructure improvements.

Much work needs to be done. ASCE’s report card says it will cost an estimated $4.59 trillion to get the national’s infrastructure into relatively good shape by 2025.

To those outside of our industry, it may seem self-serving for the country’s civil engineers to point out infrastructure deficiencies. We civil engineers strongly believe it’s a matter of public safety necessity and quality of life for all.

Infographic courtesy of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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