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America's GPA: D+
Estimated Investment Needed by 2020:
$3.6 Trillion

Infrastructure in the News: No Rest for Weary Infrastructure

February 17th, 2017 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

Romantic dates, the Grammy awards and celebrating black history are not the only milestones of this week; the Oroville dam crisis in California and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA)’s 2017 national bridge report are drawing equal media attention. The recent Oroville dam crisis in California, captured by sources like National Geographic, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and TIME Magazine, thrust a spotlight on our nation’s dams. According to FEMA’s National Dam Safety Program Fact Sheet, Oroville is one of more than 90,000 dams across the country that are underfunded and likewise vulnerable to overflow. According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), the average dam is more than 50 years old and more than 4,000 of them have been deemed deficient, or needing repairs. Thus, many other states are starting to pay closer attention to the state of their dams. In addition to dams, ARTBA’s new 2017 bridge report highlights our nation’s bridge needs. The report reveals that there are 185 million daily crossings on nearly 56,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges, including 13,000 that need replacement, widening or major reconstruction. “America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” said Alison Premo Black, chief economist of ARTBA. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.” With so much recent overt attention to dam and bridge infrastructure, the timing of our upcoming 2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure couldn’t be better. Stay tuned for more information about our nation’s infrastructure need by sector, which will be disclosed when the Report Card is released on March 9.

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Tennessee Senate Committee Receives Infrastructure Report Card

February 7th, 2017 | By: Becky Moylan

As Tennessee’s legislature and governor explore funding options for the state’s transportation infrastructure, the Tennessee Section of ASCE was invited to present the 2016 Report Card for Tennessee’s Infrastructure to the state’s Senate Transportation and Safety Committee. WBIR.com even named it as one of “5 things to watch this week in the legislature.” On Monday, Feb. 6, Monica Sartain, PE and Lukas Slayer presented the Tennessee Report Card, which graded roads a C+, bridges a B, and transit a D+, but warns that without sustainable funding congestion will continue to rise and roads and bridges will deteriorate. Current funding is not keeping up with the needs, as an estimated $475 million is needed annually to maintain the current state of good repair on state-maintained roadways, and this number grows with inflation every year. Tennessee is unique in that it’s one of only five states that is “pay-as-you-go” for transportation projects, meaning that the state takes on no debt for construction or maintenance. While this is a fiscally sound approach, it has made maintaining and improving the system challenging. In January, Gov. Haslam proposed the IMPROVE Act, “Improving Manufacturing, Public Roads and Opportunities for a Vibrant Economy,” which would raise the state’s gas tax by 7 cents a gallon and diesel by 12 cents a gallon, ultimately raising $278 million in new dollars and funding 962 projects across the state. The Tennessee’s Report Card’s top recommendation to improve the state’s infrastructure was to “Find sustainable solutions that will help us build a transportation network for the future.” The IMPROVE Act or another bill that would raise the state gas tax—last increased in 1989—is the most direct and immediate way to increase revenue to invest in transportation. ASCE will continue to encourage action this legislative session on the IMPROVE Act or another long-term sustainable funding solution. Join in by emailing your Tennessee state legislators.

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Florida’s Infrastructure Needs to Keep up with Growth

July 14th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

1Impact of Florida’s Infrastructure

Infrastructure is the backbone of Florida’s economy and a necessary part of every Floridian’s day. The Florida Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2016 Report Card for Florida’s Infrastructure on Thursday, July 14. The report includes an evaluation of the state’s aviation, bridges, coastal areas, drinking water, energy, ports, roads, schools, stormwater, transit, and wastewater (see grades below).

Keeping Up With Growth

One of the key findings from this report is that Florida is growing, and the State’s infrastructure needs a growth spurt of its own to keep up. Recently Florida’s population has grown at a rate of about 1% per year, adding about 1 million people, which is the equivalent of adding a city the size of Jacksonville every 5 years. Some cities and counties are stepping up their efforts, but more needs to be done across the state by every infrastructure owner. The good news is that investments in areas like bridges and smart technology investment solutions seen in ports and airports are raising Florida’s grades. As Florida grows, investing in infrastructure must be Florida’s top priority to continue to be the place people want to live and work as well as attract visitors from around the country and the world.  

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New Jersey Legislators Introduce Bills to Fix the Transportation Trust Fund

June 21st, 2016 | By: Infrastructure Report Card

Only a few days after the release of the 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure, the political debate over saving the State’s soon to be insolvent Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) looms over both the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly.  Yesterday, legislators in both chambers introduced identical bills to replenish the Fund, from which the State pays for maintenance, repairs and construction for transportation infrastructure.  If the legislature does not act, the state’s Transportation Trust Fund  will become insolvent on July 1. The bills, introduced by Sens. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) and Steve Oroho (R-Sussex), and by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), are a welcome step towards recommitting public investment to the Transportation Trust Fund.  The long-awaited legislative proposals call to fund the TTF with $20 billion over the next decade, and doubles municipal infrastructure aid to $400 million per year. If the legislation is successful, revenue for these long-term programs will come from an update to New Jersey’s outdated gas tax, which has lost a third of its purchasing power since it was last increased in 1988. The bills introduced yesterday in Trenton would increase the gas tax by 23 cents per gallon, and impose an approximately 13 cents per gallon tax on jet fuel. Offsetting the consumer costs of these new taxes would be the discontinuation of the New Jersey estate tax, greater tax exemptions for retirement income and low-income workers, and a new tax deduction for contributions to charities. The 2016 Report Card gave New Jersey’s roads, bridges, and transit grades of D+, D+ and D-, respectively.  Among the most alarming statistics about transportation infrastructure found in the report is that 42% of New Jersey’s roadways are deficient, which means over 16,000 miles of roads are rough, distressed or cracked.  Equally glaring is the state of New Jersey’s bridges. 1 in 11 are categorized as “structurally deficient,” and over 40% of all New Jersey bridges are expected to soon require improvements or complete replacement. As the most density populated state and a vital corridor between Philadelphia and New York City, New Jersey’s economic health and public welfare demand that the state prioritize investment in transportation infrastructure. Fixing the Transportation Trust Fund with a long-term solution is imperative to adequately addressing the infrastructure challenges highlighted by the 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure. New Jersey’s lawmakers need to pass the bills before them immediately to protect the Transportation Trust Fund. Use #FixNJTrustFund on Twitter to call for action, and check out the full 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure

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New Jersey Infrastructure Receives D+ Report Card

June 16th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

NJRC logoToday, the 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure gave an overall D+ grade for the State’s infrastructure. The report evaluated 13 separate components of New Jersey’s infrastructure, all of which were given a grade based on the components’ condition, capacity, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.  The transit and levee components received the lowest grade of D-, while solid waste received the highest grade of B-.  The other individual grades were: bridges (D+), dams (D), drinking water (C), energy (C+), hazardous waste (C), parks (D+), ports (C), rail (C), roads (D+), and wastewater (D). Throughout the report, the New Jersey Section of the ASCE calls attention to numerous challenges confronting the state’s vast and diverse infrastructure, many of which are magnified by the dangerous insolvency facing New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).  Key issues concerning infrastructure in the Garden State include:
  • Of the state’s 6,657 bridges, the report found that 1 in 11 are classified as structurally deficient and the average age of New Jersey bridges is 51 years. More than 40% of the state’s bridges are expected to require repair or replacement in the near future.
  • No single agency exists to oversee New Jersey’s 126 miles of levees, despite numerous reports citing significant condition issues with levees across the state.
  • 42% of New Jersey’s roadway system is deficient, with many highways now past their anticipated lifespan. Deficient roads are costing the average driver $1,951 each year.
  • 213 high and significant hazard dams in New Jersey are in poor or unsatisfactory condition, and hundreds of millions of dollars will be necessary to repair them.
  • If the approaching insolvency of New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is not addressed, there will be no permanent revenue source for the billions of dollars of critical investment that is needed in the state’s bridges, transit systems, railways, and roads.
Mindful of the future, however, the New Jersey Section of the ASCE included in the Report Card three major steps to begin improving the overall condition of the state’s infrastructure:
  1. Establish a long-term funding source for the Transportation Trust Fund. This will generate the funds needed for highway, rail and transit projects.
  2. As evidenced by the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the state needs to continue to invest in resilient infrastructure that can better withstand severe weather events and limit the need for frequent, costly maintenance in the future.
  3. In order to address infrastructure assets facing delayed maintenance or replacement, the state must implement new technology and updated strategies to prioritize infrastructure investment.
The 2016 Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure was created as a snapshot of the present state of New Jersey’s infrastructure, as well as a guide for improving infrastructure in the future. Read more about the report, challenges facing New Jersey’s infrastructure, and ways to meet those challenges at www.infrastructurereportcard.org/NJ.  

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New Jersey Report Card Coming Next Week

June 8th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

ASCE-NewJersey-Logo-2016With only a few weeks left before New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund goes insolvent, the Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructurwill be released on Thursday, June 16 to underscore the importance to #FixNJTrustFund with a sustainable, long-term funding solution. The report will grade surface transportation categories of bridges, rail, roads, and transit, along with dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, levees, parks & recreation, ports, solid waste, and wastewater. The event will be released to the media via a conference call at 10 a.m. and at a rally at the state capitol hosted by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. For additional information contact reportcard@asce.org. Stay tuned for additional details, the release of the grades, and (hopefully) the resolution to the Transportation Trust Fund crisis in the coming days and weeks.

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Infrastructure in the News:DC Bridge Latest Victim of Underinvestment

March 4th, 2016 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

This week marks the 80th birthday of the Hoover Dam, which is a prominent example of an invaluable infrastructure landmark that has stood the test of time. The Hoover Dam reminds us of the benefits of investing in quality infrastructure. Unfortunately, another iconic piece of infrastructure was also in the news this week because it hasn’t been getting the investment it needs. The Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., needs to be reconstructed at a cost of $250 million or it will be closed by 2021. Currently, the park service does not have the money needed to make the improvements. “The bridge is a really good example of what happens when you defer maintenance,” park service director Jonathan Jarvis told The Associated Press. “If the park service had had the funding over the lifespan this past 80 years, we probably could have extended the life of the bridge.” In order to prevent bridge closures and emergency repairs, our infrastructure needs a long-term, sustainable funding solution, rather than a one-time infusion that only lasts a few years. An article in Engineering News-Record explained the dismal future of the Highway Trust Fund if Congress does not use the coming years to find a solution. Lack of investment also leads to costly fixes and high out-of-pocket expenses for drivers. TRIP, a national transportation research group, estimated the cost to drivers is $516 per year. According to AAA, potholes alone cost drivers $15 billion during the past five years, and TRIP reported that commuter delays add up to more trips to the gas pump, costing drivers time and an additional $121 billion in wasted fuel. In order to curb some of these costs and rejuvenate our economy, it is important to find a long-term, sustainable funding source for surface transportation before the FAST Act expires.

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Report Offers Ways to Make Federal Transportation Investment More Productive

February 24th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

Now that the FAST Act has provided five years of certain funding for surface transportation programs, it’s time for Congress to once again turn to the important work of finding a long-term, sustainable funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund. A guaranteed funding source is key to allowing states to effectively plan and execute transportation projects. To aid in this process, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released last week a report titled “Approaches to Making Federal Highway Spending More Productive.” The report points out that federal investment in highways does not correlate accordingly with how roads are used. It also finds that federal road funding has been based primarily on formula grants, not taking into account the amount of travel on roads. It goes on to say that while maintaining existing capacity is becoming increasingly more important, investment has not shifted accordingly. The CBO also offers how the federal funding could be more productive and suggests three approaches for Congress to consider, including:
  • Charging drivers directly for road use more often, including based on traffic congestion
  • Allocating funding to states based on the costs and benefits of specific projects
  • Linking investment to performance measures on congestion and road quality
The recommendations are another reminder of the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and the need to find a long-term, sustainable funding source for the federal surface transportation program. Having these conversation early and often will be crucial to put Congress on a path to find a long-term sustainable funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund before the FAST Act expires.

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Infrastructure in the News: Bridges, Potholes and Tire Damage, Oh My!

February 19th, 2016 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

This week has been one of reflection on our nation’s bridges, potholes and transportation needs and planning needed to best address these needs at the state level. An article in USA Today featured the progress being made, thanks to the attention towards our nation’s bridges. ARTBA reported that nearly 10 percent of the country’s bridges last year were considered structurally deficient and needed repairs. This is progress from 2014, but there is still a ways to go to get to the 8% by 2020 that the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure recommends. Bridges are not the only concern for drivers. A new study from the American Automobile Association said that pothole damage cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years. “The problems range from tire punctures and bent wheels, to more expensive suspension damage,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair, said in a statement. According to the study, two-thirds of Americans are concerned about potholes on local roadways—further evident in Ford’s announcement of pothole protection technology—and the average American driver pays around $300 to repair pothole damage. Bridges and roads are critical to our nation for more than personal safety; they also play a huge role in supporting our nation’s businesses. MBA Central recently released an infographic breaking down how the latest surface transportation bill, the FAST Act, impacts our nation’s businesses. The infographic addresses how each category of infrastructure, as categorized in ASCE’s infrastructure report card, plays into the day-to-day productivity of businesses. Because infrastructure plays such a supporting role in our day-to-day lives and the overall economy, states continue to craft ways to fill in the gaps where the FAST Act is not providing enough funds to repair their infrastructure. For example, lawmakers in Delaware are proposing a 10-cent gas tax increase, Nebraska is proposing an infrastructure bank, and Tennessee is adopting a 25-year, $8.5 billion transportation plan to cover infrastructure costs. While these state-level steps are encouraging, it is still important that elected leaders at the federal level continue to prioritize investment into the backbone of our economy. As Vice President Biden has been saying all week, we need good infrastructure to keep America competitive.

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Department of Transportation Celebrates 50 Years of Safety Innovation

February 8th, 2016 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

Established by President Lyndon Johnson, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is now celebrating 50 years of making transportation safer for the traveling public. This month marked the 50th anniversary, where USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx and six former USDOT Secretaries gathered together in D.C. to share the changes they’ve seen in transportation since the department began. When asked what the most significant advancement in transportation was, all pointed to safety efforts and innovations – whether adding seat belts, eliminating drug abuse, or enhancing the operation of transportation systems. In 50 years, we’ve come a long way, and we’re looking forward to where the next 50 years take us.  

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