Publisher’s Message April 2021: Building a Reliable Infrastructure Network

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ASCE

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently unveiled its 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, with the nation earning a mark of ‘C-’, up from 2017’s mark of ‘D+’. The good news: This marks the first time since ASCE began issuing the report card that our infrastructure has received a GPA outside of the D range.

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 that 45% of Americans lack reliable access to transit services. Eleven categories of the 17 categories rated received grades in the ‘D’ range.

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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.

However, much more work is needed. Many sectors face staggering maintenance backlogs. 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 country’s total infrastructure needs over the next 10 years total nearly $6 trillion, but after considering various sources of committed funding, the gap to meet those needs is $2.59 trillion. If this is not addressed, America’s overdue infrastructure bill will cost each American household approximately $3,300 per year, or $63 per week.

In order to close this gap, ASCE calls for strong federal, state, and local leadership and investment in infrastructure. Additionally, resilience must be a priority, as the ability to withstand or recover from extreme events is key to infrastructure survival.

In related news, on March 31, President Joe Biden unveiled The American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion package aimed at creating jobs and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. The plan includes $621 billion dedicated to modernizing our surface transportation networks.

In response, Doug Carlson, CEO of the National Utility Contractors Association, issued the following statement: “President Biden’s infrastructure plan has some very good elements in it, such as the $111 billion to increase spending on improving our nation’s water infrastructure systems. The $100 billion for both broadband improvements and building a resilient electric grid will deliver long-term improvements for millions of Americans.

“However, our industry joins the American business community in being wary about how the President is going to pay for all of this with corporate tax increases on the very companies that create new jobs. Congress has its work cut out on reconciling this plan with economic and fiscal realities.

“The best thing that can be said about the plan is that the Administration and Congress, and both parties, are at least talking about infrastructure. Our deteriorating water and wastewater systems, crumbling highways, and insufficient broadband capacity can’t be ignored forever.”

As always there is no shortage of work, but funding will play a key role in how much progress we can make in achieving our goal of providing reliable, efficient and resilient infrastructure.

Jim Rush, Editor/Publisher, TBM

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