Association News

American Infrastructure Gets a C-

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America’s infrastructure is graded C- by the American Society of Civil Engineers in its quadrennial report card. Though still subpar, this is the first time since the group began issuing report cards the country’s grade has exceeded a grade in the D category.

The highest grade was the B in the rail category, while the lowest was the D-  for the nation’s transit systems. The report finds 45 percent of Americans lack reliable access to transit services.

Overall, 11 categories received grades in the ‘D’ range. The Report Card covers 17 categories of infrastructure pertinent to all Americans, including a new stormwater chapter and a spotlight on broadband. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the need for national broadband infrastructure has become more apparent than ever during the last year.

Between 2017 and 2021, five category grades increased, while only one, bridges, decreased. This, combined with state and local governments’ commitment to improving infrastructure, indicate that infrastructure investment in the United State is trending upwards.

Nonetheless, categories scoring in the D range included aviation, dams, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, public parks, roads, schools, stormwater, transit and wastewater. This demonstrates that much more work is needed to be done to improve the overall infrastructure network, ASCE executives claim.

Many sectors, especially those with lower grades, have staggering maintenance backlogs. Implementation of asset management can be helpful for these categories to ensure maintenance needs are taken care of when necessary. With such large backlogs, developing a clear understanding of where available funds are most needed is essential for protecting lives and maintaining a productive economy, the group contends.

Philip Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, said the report reveals the continued-desperate need for greater investment. “ASCE’s grade of C- is a clear sign that our domestic infrastructure needs significant improvements. SMA is pleased to see the Biden Administration and Congress prioritizing infrastructure spending, which will benefit our nation for years to come.”

“It is our hope that any infrastructure package will include strong Buy America requirements to help ensure federal dollars are spent on American made goods. Buy America requirements should apply to any infrastructure project funded in whole or in part with federal monies including public-private partnerships.  This will help ensure projects are not segmented for purposes of avoiding the Buy America requirements.”