America’s Infrastructure Gets a D+

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has issued their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which assigns a letter grade to the nation’s infrastructure.

Our country’s grade in 2017? A disappointing D+.

Although, if you’re a glass half full kind of person (bless your soul) at least our grade didn’t fall since the last report card was issued in 2013, when our grade was a D+ as well.

In short, we suck. Although, apparently, we don’t suck evenly across the board.

ASCE has divided its cumulative GPA into grades for specific courses, if you will. Our transit systems received a grade of D-; our airports, dams, drinking water and waste water plants, inland waterways, levees and roads received a grade of D; our power plants, hazardous waste plants, public parks and schools received a grade of D+; our bridges, ports and solid waste plants a grade of C+, and our rail systems received a grade of B.

There’s even some information (but no grade) on California’s infrastructure.

ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card comes as President Trump has pledged to spend “at least” $1 trillion on improving the nation’s infrastructure. While it’s unclear how President Trump will fulfill his $1 trillion promise, the ASCE has some suggestions, including:

  • Dedicated Funding: Dedicate public funding sources at the federal, state and local levels that can’t be tapped to pay for or offset other parts of the budget.
  • Raise the Fuel Tax: Raise the federal motor fuel tax, which has sat at 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel since 1993,  by at least 25 cents per gallon and have it tied to inflation.
  • Charge Usage Fees: Charge for the public’s use of infrastructure at rates reflecting the cost of using, maintaining and improving the infrastructure including water, waste, transportation and energy services.
  • Consider Life Cycle Costs: Require projects with an estimated value in excess of $5 million and that would receive federal funding to use a life cycle cost analysis and plan for funding the project.
  • Create Incentives: Create incentives for state and local governments and the private sector to invest in maintaining and improving the country’s infrastructure, including public-private partnerships.
  • Prioritize Projects: Prioritize those projects that are most in need of investment and maintenance.
  • Streamline Permitting: Streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects with safeguards to protect the natural environment.
  • Disaster Planning: Develop community resilience programs for severe weather and seismic events to aid in communications and recovery.
  • Future-Proof Infrastructure: Future-proof infrastructure by considering the impact of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, distributed power generation and storage, and larger ships when building new infrastructure.
  • Rethink Land Use Planning: Improve land use planning at the local level to consider the function of new and existing infrastructure, the balance between the built and natural environment, and population trends.
  • Research and Development: Support research and development into innovative new materials, technologies and processes to modernize and extend the life of infrastructure.


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