US roads, bridges and other utilities get a D+ grade
And that's good news. It's an improvement over previous report cards issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Any parent knows that a D+ grade is rarely something to cheer about. But when the D+ is awarded to the overall state of America's national infrastructure, that's apparently good news.
The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure showed slight progress over the D grade it gave the nation's bridges, roads, public utilities, water supplies and other essential systems during the last report in 2009.
This marks the first time the society, which began issuing its reports in 1998, has noted an improvement in national infrastructure. Until now, the grades have been near-failing and averaging a D -- due to what the Society calls "delayed maintenance and underinvestment."
The report looks across a wide spectrum of infrastructure issues. For 2013, it ranged from a high of B- for solid waste, to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Along with solid waste, drinking water, waste water, roads and bridges all saw slight improvements. And, just as important, no categories declined in grade compared to the last report.
In its executive summary, the report card says the improvements show what can be accomplished by sound investment in infrastructure. For example, it notes, greater private investment improved the connectivity and efficiency of rail transportation -- while new efforts on the city and state level addressed urgent work needed for some vulnerable bridges. Several areas of infrastructure also benefited from short-term increases in federal funding.
Gregory DiLoreto, the society's president, says Americans need to be proactive in taking care of national infrastructure – not only as a legacy, but to help keep the economy on a sound footing.“The reason why we want to make improvements to our infrastructure is not just simply to improve the grade,” he said on the society's website.
“Investment in our infrastructure will help grow our economy; it will create jobs and improve our quality of life,” he added. “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.”
The report card concludes that, if we are to raise our national infrastructure grades to acceptable levels across all 16 sectors touched on in the report, $3.6 trillion in total investment is needed by 2020. At the moment, total infrastructure spending in the U.S. is projected at around $2 trillion.
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