Monday, March 13, 2017

Report Card for America

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure. The ASCE assigns letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement. The 2017 Infrastructure Report Card reveals America’s cumulative GPA is once again a D+, the same as in 2013. However if you recall, the 2013 report card was a slight improvement from 2009 when we received a D.

The 2017 grades range from a B for Rail to a D- for Transit, illustrating the impact of recent investment in rail ($27.1 billion in 2015 alone) and the lack of investment in transit in the past several. The grades given declined in three categories – Parks, Solid Waste, and Transit, while seven areas improved slightly – Hazardous Waste, Inland Waterways, Levees, Ports, Rail, Schools, and Wastewater. Six categories’ grades remain unchanged from 2013 – Aviation, Bridges, Dams, Drinking Water, Energy, and Roads.

Infrastructure is the backbone of the U.S. economy. It is critical to every nation’s prosperity and the public’s health and welfare. For the U.S. economy to be the most competitive in the world, we need a first class infrastructure system – transport systems that move people and goods efficiently and at reasonable cost by land, water, and air; transmission systems that deliver reliable, low-cost power from a wide range of energy sources; and water systems that drive industrial processes as well as the daily functions in our homes. Yet our investment in infrastructure has been faltering for decades. In the first ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure in 1988, America’s grade was about a C+. We have failed to maintain and expand the infrastructure built by our parents and grandparents.

The costs of doing business and, therefore, prices will increase if surface transportation systems worsen, ports, airports and inland waterways become further outdated or congested, and if water, wastewater and electricity infrastructure systems continue to deteriorate or fail to keep up with changing demand. Increased reliance on electricity to support computer and data-driven systems and industries is particularly important when the cost of service outages and interruptions is business failure. Irregular delivery of water and wastewater services and electricity will make production processes more expensive and divert household disposable income to these basic necessities. The ASCE estimates that the United States needs to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 to bring its infrastructure to an adequate B- grade, a figure about $2 trillion higher than current projected funding levels. (Current funding levels include only Federal, state and local funding projections.)
from ASCE

If we fail to act ASCE estimates that from 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies; and if not addressed, the loss will grow to an average of $5,100 annually from 2026 to 2040. 

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