For the second time in a row, America’s infrastructure received a near-failing grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
The 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the performance and condition of the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+, up from a D in 2009. That kind of “progress” wouldn’t impress a parent, and it should be downright disappointing to the American people.
A few shocking highlights:
The ASCE study, updated every four years, evaluated 16 sectors that include solid waste, the power grid, drinking water, wastewater, roads and bridges. An Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns grades in each category according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.
The grades in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+.
No categories saw a decline in grade this year, so the weakened infrastructure we have left is hanging in there…for now. Still, ASCE President Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E. calls the results “simply unacceptable.”
“Infrastructure can either be the engine for long-term economic growth and employment, or, it can jeopardize our nation’s standing if poor roads, deficient bridges, and failing waterways continue to hurt our economy,” said DiLoreto. If America doesn’t find a way to inject over $3 trillion into its own infrastructure in the next 7 years, the next report may read all F’s. And there’s no extra credit in this class.
It’s time to make some hard decisions about where the money’s going. Our infrastructure is literally crumbling to the ground–infrastructure each and every one of us needs to survive. Yet a vast majority of our budget is earmarked for a bloated military and subsidies for fossil fuel companies already swimming in profit.
Budgeting is all about priorities. Whether it’s a family or a nation, there’s only so much money to go around. The responsibility of those in charge is to decide which expenditures are absolutely necessary and which aren’t. In America, it appears, our priorities are more than a little messed up.
Read the ASCE’s full report, including state-by-state breakdowns, at www.infrastructurereportcard.org
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