Every four years, the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) releases its Infrastructure Report Card to help raise awareness of the importance of infrastructure and the need for investment. While the Report Card has been successful in bringing attention to matter, investment in repairing and maintaining our infrastructure is still falling short, as evidenced by the overall D+ grade issued in the 2017 Report Card published on March 9.
The 2017 grades range from a B for Rail to a D- for Transit, illustrating the clear impact of investment — or lack thereof — on the grades. Three categories — Parks, Solid Waste, and Transit — received a decline in grade this year, while seven — Hazardous Waste, Inland Waterways, Levees, Ports, Rail, Schools, and Wastewater — saw slight improvements. Six categories’ grades remain unchanged from 2013 — Aviation, Bridges, Dams, Drinking Water, Energy, and Roads.
The areas of infrastructure that improved benefited from vocal leadership, thoughtful policymaking, and investments that garnered results. These improvements demonstrate what can be accomplished when solutions that move projects forward are approved and implemented.
Even though the U.S. Congress and some states have recently made efforts to invest more in infrastructure, these efforts do not come close to the $2.0 trillion in needs. The good news is that closing America’s infrastructure gap is possible if Congress, states, infrastructure owners, and voters commit to increasing our investment. To raise the overall infrastructure grade and maintain our global competitiveness, Congress and the states must invest an additional $206 billion each year.
As ASCE discovered in its 2016 economic study, Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future, failing to close this infrastructure investment gap brings serious economic consequences:
- $3.9 trillion in losses to the U.S. GDP by 2025;
- $7 trillion in lost business sales by 2025; and
- 5 million lost American jobs in 2025.
According the report, the time to invest in our nation’s infrastructure is now. The longer we wait, the more it costs. Investing now will save our country more in the long run while also creating economic opportunity, enhancing quality of life, and ensuring public health and safety.
The full report can be viewed here.