Report Cards Are Out: American Infrastructure Gets D+

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.  Every four years, the ASCE grades the nation’s infrastructure within sixteen major categories on an A - F scale.  Many factors determine the grade a particular category of infrastructure receives, including Capacity, Condition, Funding, Future Need, Operation and Maintenance, Public Safety, Resilience, and Innovation.

Overall, America’s cumulative infrastructure grade in 2017 was D+.  Low-scoring areas include Aviation (D), Roads (D), and Public Transit (D-), among many others.  Explore other categories.

  • The report notes that Aviation is hampered by airport and control system infrastructure, which is causing congestion to grow.  It notes that this area faces a $42 billion funding gap over the next ten years and that “24 of the top 30 major airports may soon experience ‘Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume’ at least one day every week.” 
  • Roads are noted to be overcrowded, underfunded, and often in poor condition.  With a growing backlog of repair work, “traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014.”
  • Public Transit faces increasing demand despite a $90 billion rehabilitation backlog.  The report notes that many Americans have inadequate access to public transit.  As we reported last July, there is currently research and development underway to address America’s future travel needs.  While these large scale projects are important to develop long-term solutions, it is important that small scale solutions also be implemented to assist with today’s immediate needs.

At the local level, one such smaller-scale project is the bus rapid transit project between Downtown and Oakland to streamline travel between these two neighborhoods.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  reported in February that while it is not certain that federal funding will be secured, “it is a high priority project and it will proceed.”  If funding can be secured for such projects, it will present opportunities to local construction firms specializing in a range of industries, and improving our nation’s infrastructure grades certainly is a long road ahead.

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