These assessments highlight the fact that America’s critical
infrastructure—principally its roads, bridges, drinking water
systems, mass transit systems, schools and systems for delivering
energy—may soon fail to meet society’s needs. ASCE believes
they have an obligation to point out to the White House,
Congress, and state and local legislators what is happening to the
infrastructure in the United States.
2013 REPORT CARD
The ASCE assigned grades to each of the 16 key categories. A
summary of finding has been published with their permission.
For more information, visit www.infrastructurereportcard.com.
“As civil engineers, ASCE believes that we are the stewards of
infrastructure—we designed it, we built it, and we actually oversee
the operations and maintenance of it in many cases,” notes ASCE
President Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E., F.ASCE. “It’s more than simply
raising the grade. Investment in our infrastructure will help grow
our economy. It will create jobs and improve our quality of life.”
PROGRESS SLOW, BUT POSSIBLE
This year marks the first time that the grades rose, showing slight
progress from a D grade in the 2009 report. This demonstrates
that, when investments are made to improve our aging
infrastructure and projects move forward, the grades rise. For
example, the bridge category rose by a half a grade, reflecting a
concentrated effort to begin repairing some of our structurally-deficient bridges. In rail, greater private investment for efficiency
and connectivity brought improvements. And several categories
benefited from short-term boosts in federal funding.
America relies on an aging electrical grid and pipeline
distribution systems, some of which originated in the 1880s.
Investment in power transmission has increased since 2005,
but ongoing permitting issues, weather events, and limited
maintenance have contributed to an increasing number of
failures and power interruptions. While demand for electricity
has remained level, the availability of energy in the form of
electricity, natural gas, and oil will become a greater challenge
after 2020 as the population increases. Although about 17,000
miles of additional high-voltage transmission lines and
significant oil and gas pipelines are planned over the next five
years, permitting and siting issues threaten their completion.
Thus, the grade for energy remained a D+.
While this modest progress is encouraging, it is clear that we
have a significant backlog of overdue maintenance across our
infrastructure systems, a pressing need for modernization, and
an immense opportunity to create reliable, long-term funding
sources to avoid wiping out any recent gains. The report card
concludes that to raise the grades and get our infrastructure at an
acceptable level, a total investment of $3.6 trillion is needed by
2020 across 16 different sectors. Currently, only about $2 trillion
in infrastructure spending is projected, leaving an estimated
shortfall of approximately $1.6 trillion.
In April, President Obama released a 2014 federal budget plan
that includes $50 billion for infrastructure investments, including
$40 billion to cover what are called “Fix it First” projects. These
include repairing highways, bridges, transit systems and airports
nationwide, while providing $10 billion for competitive programs
to encourage innovation in completing high-value infrastructure
“The budget invests in repairing our existing infrastructure and
building the infrastructure of tomorrow, including high-speed
rail, high-tech schools, and power grids that are resilient to
future extreme conditions,” the White House announced. “These
investments will both lay the foundation for long-term economic
growth and put workers back on the job now.”
ASCE President DiLoreto praised the 2014 budget proposal and
its focus on investing in America’s transportation infrastructure.
“It’s time for all leaders from all parties to invest in America’s
future to assure we have a strong foundation for an ever-changing 21st century economy.”
Limited maintenance, weather events and a host of ongoing permitting
and siting issues have contributed to an increasing number of power
failures and interruptions.