Report Card on America's Infrastructure Is a 'Warning'

Overall score from American Society of Civil Engineers is a C-
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 3, 2021 8:00 AM CST
America's Infrastructure Rated a Mediocre C-
In this Jan. 14, 2021, file photo, a pickup traverses the Franklin Street bridge in Michigan City, Ind. The historic structure, which was built in the 1930s, will be closed again for repairs in a few weeks and La Porte County officials have begun discussion of its replacement.   (Matt Fritz/The News Dispatch via AP)

America's infrastructure has scored near-failing grades for its deteriorating roads, public transit, and storm water systems due to years of inaction from the federal government, the American Society of Civil Engineers reports. Its overall grade: a mediocre C-, a slight improvement from its D+ grade in 2017, reports the AP. In its "Infrastructure Report Card" released Wednesday, the group called for "big and bold" relief, estimating it would cost $5.9 trillion over the next decade to bring roads, bridges, and airports to a safe and sustainable level. That's about $2.6 trillion more than what government and the private sector already spend. More:

  • Of the 17 categories making up the overall grade, 11 were in the D range that indicated a "significant deterioration" with a "strong risk of failure." Four areas got Cs: bridges, which dropped from a C+ to a C in 2021, energy, drinking water, and solid waste. Just two areas—ports and rail—scored higher, with a B- and B, respectively.

  • Though they scored a C, NPR reports bridges are a major area of concern, with the report noting that 42% of the country's 617,000 bridges are more than 50 years old, and 7% of all bridges are rated "structurally deficient," meaning they're in bad shape.
  • According to the report card, the nation is only paying about half of what it needs to lift overall US infrastructure to an acceptable "B" level. Left unaddressed, America’s overdue infrastructure bill by 2039 will cost the average American household $3,300 a year, or $63 a week, the group said.
  • President Biden’s administration and lawmakers in recent weeks have begun laying the groundwork for a long-sought boost to the nation’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure of $2 trillion or more, to be unveiled after Congress approves legislation on COVID-19 relief.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has been meeting with lawmakers about the effort, has said the aim would be to rejuvenate the post-coronavirus pandemic economy and boost crumbling roads and bridges while encouraging alternative forms of transportation to cars, as well as create thousands of green jobs by making environmentally friendly retrofits and public works improvements. "This report card is a warning and a call to action," Buttigieg told the AP.
  • Buttigieg announced on Tuesday the first low-cost federal transportation loan in the Biden administration, up to $448 million to Texas for toll-road projects in Austin to ease congestion, touting bike-friendly features such as a planned 10-foot-wide paved sidewalk for cyclists and pedestrians with access to trails.
(More infrastructure stories.)

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