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

President’s Address Includes Infrastructure

March 1st, 2017 | By: Becky Moylan

On Tuesday night, President Trump addressed a joint-session of Congress for the first time in his presidency. Infrastructure was among the many issues he discussed. The President highlighted the interstate highway system as a the “last truly great national infrastructure program,” before calling for a “new program of national rebuilding” and vowing to ask Congress to pass legislation for $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, “financed through both public and private capital.” Infrastructure investment was one of the President’s core campaign promises. While there still needs to be much more shared about the infrastructure legislation described, including what the mix of public and private capital will be and how this investment will be allocated across our nation’s significant infrastructure needs, this is an encouraging step toward fulfilling what the President pledged during the campaign. The speech came just 10 days before ASCE will release its new 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. The report will again provide grades and analysis of 16 categories of infrastructure and offer key solutions and category solutions to raise the grades. One of the core solutions you can expect to read and hear about is the need for investment, and even more specifically government funding. To have lasting progress for our infrastructure, the federal government must commit to not only financing infrastructure programs but funding them. Funding must supplement – rather than replace – long-term solutions, regular appropriations, and scheduled reauthorizations. This tenet is one ASCE also focuses on in its Principles for Infrastructure Investment, released during the Presidential Transition. Americans recognize our infrastructure needs are significant—a new investment gap number will also be released on March 9 in the Report Card. They are also solvable, beginning with federal infrastructure legislation that:
  • Includes investment that provides substantial, long-term benefits to the public and the economy;
  • considers the cost of an infrastructure project over its entire life span;
  • ensures projects are built sustainably and resiliently;
  • does not replace existing federal, state, local, or private infrastructure funding.
Explore the full Principles and mark your calendar for March 9 at 9:30 a.m. ET to watch the Report Card grades reveal live via webstream.

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Tennessee’s Infrastructure Grades Are In

September 27th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

Grades From Memphis to Nashville, Tennessee is known for its influence in music. The state’s slogan boasts “America at its best.” However, according to the release of today’s Report Card for Tennessee’s Infrastructure many infrastructure areas aren’t at their best. The Report Card gave the state’s infrastructure a “C” GPA. But that average grade will not cut it when it comes to the challenges to come from aging infrastructure and a growing population. The state needs increased investments, and long-term, sustainable funding plans if its infrastructure will live up to the “at its best” motto. The report gave dams the lowest grade of “D,” in large part to the many unknowns of the state’s farm pond dams. Bridges received the highest grade of “B,” a testament to the focus on rehabilitating 193 state-owned structurally deficient bridges in recent years, along with the state’s overall good bridge health. Explore the full Report Card and if you live in Tennessee, share it with your elected leaders. With Tennessee at a crossroads of a growing population and aging infrastructure, the state needs to prioritize investment and modernization.

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National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit Talks Infrastructure

August 11th, 2016 | By: Maria Matthews

This week the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) held its  annual Legislative Summit in Chicago.  Approximately 5,000 state legislators, legislative staffers, federal officials and others gathered to gain invaluable knowledge from experts and fellow legislators to take back to their respective states. Attendees participated in an array of policy-producing committee meetings, issue forums and deep-dive sessions, including on infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers attended to lend our expertise and share the message of the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure and the Failure to Act economic study during sessions and in conversation. One such session was on the “Multisector P3 Partnership,” which featured national experts and state leaders discussing emerging policy issues surrounding the expanding P3 industry and its potential role in helping strengthen public infrastructure assets in water, energy, transportation and others. Another session of note, titled “Crystal Clear? State Efforts to Improve Water Planning,” was a panel discussion on how states are working to bring together the agriculture industry, urban areas and clean water advocates to address efforts to maintain healthy water resources, and consider future demand and supply of this important resource. This session featured ASCE Past-President Greg DiLoreto P.E., P.LS., D. WRE, Pres.13.ASCE and fellow panelists Tom Curtis, former deputy executive director of American Water Works Association, John Covington from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Chris Kolb from the Michigan Environmental Council. The conversation included a discussion of the infrastructure investment gap, funding mechanisms including state revolving funds, and how to ensure drinking water quality. This session was one of eight session chosen to be live streamed and archived on the Summit’s website.    

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Political Conventions Talk Infrastructure

July 28th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

In the past two weeks both major U.S. political parties have held conventions to formally nominate a presidential candidate and talk about their respective visions for the country. Here’s how each party handled infrastructure: The Republican Party held its National Convention first in Cleveland, Ohio the week of July 18. While the city was selected as the host in part because of its transit offerings, the GOP’s approved party platform statement is none-too-kind to public transportation infrastructure. The platform’s “America on the Move” section (found on page 4) is the only part that discusses infrastructure at great length. The solution identified to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure is to take transit funding out of the Highway Trust Fund—an idea that has been attempted and failed in the past—and eliminate the federal transit program. In addition, it states “With most of the states increasing their own funding for transportation, we oppose a further increase in the federal gas tax.” However, it does not offer specifics on how to address the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The platform also includes mention of the nation’s waterways and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule (found on page 18). The position states “We must never allow federal agencies to seize control of state waters, watersheds, or groundwater. State waters, watersheds, and groundwater must be the purview of the sovereign states.” The republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has spoken several times over the course of the campaign on the need to invest in the nation ‘s infrastructure. In Mr. Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night he specifically referenced the nation’s roads’, bridges’, and airports’ poor condition. During the week’s events, a few speakers did mention infrastructure in passing including actress Kimberlin Brown, however it was not a major focus of anyone’s policy speeches. This week the Democratic Party gathered in Philadelphia for its national convention. The Democratic Party Platform offers far more mentions and details regarding improving the nation’s infrastructure, including a section titled “Building 21st Century Infrastructure” (found on page 7), which specifically calls out the idea of a national infrastructure bank. In other sections of the platform, infrastructure improvements are referenced as a way to increase safety, build a clean energy economy, and strengthened cities. During the convention, several speakers discussed infrastructure, including Flint, Michigan’s Mayor Karen Weaver. During her primary campaign, democratic party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released a detailed infrastructure plan. Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) referenced roads and bridges in his announcement speech saying “Let’s build bridges and roads and airports and ports so people can have jobs.” With our nation’s infrastructure most recently receiving a “D+” GPA, it’s good that both parties have been talking about it.

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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: New Year Inspires New Ideas

January 15th, 2016 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

The new year is off to a roaring start, with Washington, D.C. releasing its first infrastructure report card, ASCE issuing its Moore, Oklahoma tornado report and many states addressing their infrastructure plans for 2016. ASCE’s National Capital Section released the 2016 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure January 14, giving the nation’s capital a grade of C- overall, with transportation receiving the lowest individual grade. According to The Washington Post, D.C.’s roads are considered some of the most congested in the nation. An article in The Guardian explored how gridlock in D.C. and other U.S. cities not only prolongs daily commutes but also raises concern for safety in the event of an emergency evacuation. It is safe to say that gridlock can be agreed upon by ASCE, lawmakers and the American public, as a paramount issue worth addressing. With the new year, many states are taking a fresh look at ways to revitalize their infrastructure. New York, Connecticut, Indiana, California are all contemplating funding methods such as tolling, gas tax increases and annual vehicle fees to fund infrastructure. ASCE also released its Moore Oklahoma tornado report this week, which addressed the findings of a team of ASCE engineers who deployed to Moore to assess buildings destroyed in the May 2013 tornado. While the report focuses on the importance of codes and standards in building construction design, it provides important reminders on the need to invest in infrastructure to make buildings more safe and resilient against natural disasters. Whether it be improving our transportation network or improving structural resiliency, our infrastructure requires constant upkeep. In just over a year, the American Society of Civil Engineers will release its 2017 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, providing an in-depth assessment of the state of our nation’s infrastructure. In the meantime, it’s up to our elected leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to continue prioritizing investment into the backbone of our economy.

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D.C. Infrastructure Report Card Gives C- Overall, Lowest Grade to Levees

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

The 2016 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure is an independent review of the current state of infrastructure needs, capability and funding in D.C. by the National Capital Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Report Card was written over the past year by ASCE members from the D.C. region who assigned the grades according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. The report grades the infrastructure assets and is not a reflection of the agencies and professionals who work every day to solve infrastructure issues. It is a tool that shows the condition and importance of D.C.’s vital infrastructure assets that support our daily life or can interrupt our lives if we don’t maintain them. To put it another way, if you drive or ride in D.C., if you drink the water or flush a toilet in D.C., or if you just want infrastructure that works – this Report Card is for you. In the 2016 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure, ASCE assessed 11 categories of infrastructure and found that 3 of them earned poor D grades, 6 earned mediocre C grades, and 2 earned B grades. Levees earned the lowest grade in the Report Card at a D-. Levees protect the capitol area from flooding as well as the Anacostia Bolling base, and both have earned “Unacceptable” ratings creating a need for emergency repairs and an additional $5 million would be needed to finish the work to protect the capitol area. Transit received a D grade due primarily to the condition of Metro system and the safety implications of a lack of consistent funding and focus on maintenance. While bright spots exist with new Metrobuses, Circulator bus success, and an innovative Capital Bikeshare, with 85% of D.C.’s commuters using Metro, it should be clear that this should be a priority not only in D.C. but also for each stakeholder in this system. While we know D.C. Roads are congested, the D+ grade for roads is in large part due to DDOT needing 4 times its current maintenance budget. For every dollar of need, there’s only a quarter to spend. School facilities earned a grade of C- with more than 49 schools reporting at least one “poor” condition structural element, impacting more than 14,000 students. However, almost half of D.C. schools have been modernized which show a tremendous leap in the right direction and a clear investment in D.C.’s future. Energy earned a C with $3 billion needed for electricity upgrades and $650 million need to replace 50-year old natural gas pipelines. Both water and wastewater were given grades of C+. With pipes’ median age being about 79 years old, we shouldn’t be surprised that there are 400 to 550 pipe breaks each year, but we’re starting to replace 1% per year and renew the clean drinking water infrastructure residents use. Wastewater work is happening right now to expand the capacity of our system that will not only prevent neighborhood flooding but improve the quality of the Anacostia River. Solid Waste earned a grade of C+. Our city’s growth is requiring an increase of trucks to take away our waste. While 10% more of it is recycled than a decade ago, we still need to make progress to reach the long-term goal of 45%. We have more Parks per person in D.C. than almost any place in the U.S. yet 50% of D.C.’s open spaces have challenges leading to a C+ grade. Rail received a B- grade due to the significant private investment of CSX in their rail infrastructure and the Virginia Avenue Rail Tunnel allowing 400,000 freight carloads to pass through D.C. While more capacity is need for rail and passengers, future plans being set today could serve D.C.’s needs and improve our congestion. Finally, D.C. Bridges received a B-, one of the highest grades, showing tremendous progress in reducing the structurally deficient bridges from 8% to 3% in just 3 years. The future will require consistent maintenance of older bridges reaching the end of their lifespan, but improvements like this show that diligent management, maintenance, and investment together create the changes we need to see. The Report Card shows us the condition and needs in a letter grade, but what is very clear when you read this report is that innovative solutions to our challenges, like DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project, are going to shape D.C.’s future if we let them. Yes, we have infrastructure challenges, but there are solutions to each of them and some are already on the way and some we need to support to make reality. We’re also going to need to get back to the basics – maintenance needs to be as essential to our budgets as water for hot coffee in the morning. With innovation and maintenance, we can prepare for the future and modernize the infrastructure that will serve us and future generations.

Read the full 2016 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure.

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Infrastructure Needs Crescendo

May 15th, 2015 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

With major delays on the DC metro during rush hour, two train derailments, and Arizona’s state report card release, 15 days until the Highway Trust Fund expires, Infrastructure Week highlighted the importance of investing in infrastructure through and a week of planned infrastructure awareness events and the unforeseen infrastructure problems. echo the pleas for a sustainable funding solution. After an Amtrak train derailed on along the Northeast Corridor Tuesday night killing eight and injuring over 200 people, our nation’s rail infrastructure was thrust into the spotlight. Despite the exact causes for the derailment, which are still unknown, the incident prompted a national conversation about the need to increase investment into our infrastructure. Outlets including International Business Times ,CNBC and Slate discussed the derailment in the context of our aging infrastructure needs, quoting ASCE’s Infrastructure Report Card recommendation to “improve passenger rail in dense urban corridor markets and as an alternative to air and automobile travel for intercity markets.” Even if poor rail conditions didn’t cause the derailment, ASCE agrees that a better-funded and maintained system could have prevented it. According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Amtrak is expected to “quadruple its total ridership by 2040,” yet the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee cut Amtrak funding by $252 million this week. While derailments like Tuesday’s have numerous causation factors, infrastructure increased investment is necessary to modernize the system regardless. In addition to Amtrak, 11 to 13 cars from a freight train derailed on Thursday in Pittsburgh, Pa., causing traffic backups. Though this incident did not cause any injuries, the damage expenses reflect the need for better investment upfront. The Washington Post explores the cost of delaying infrastructure repairs and contrasts it with the opportunity investing in infrastructure creates. point to the need for a long-term, sustainable funding solution as Improving the current planning and funding process would not only necessary for maintenance but a way to enhance our nation’s competitiveness, sustainable footprint and create up to an estimated 2 million jobs, the author argues. The Arizona Report Card advocates for keeping infrastructure in a state of good repair because of how important it is to our daily lives. Further, the report underscores the need to invest in smart projects that will support Arizona’s expected population growth and make the state even more economically competitive. Due to infrastructure needs becoming more visibly apparent, states like Arizona have released a state infrastructure report card to carefully evaluate their nation’ infrastructure needs. For Arizona, the infrastructure report card helps them determine which infrastructure sectors need the most investment. From DC’s Metro delays on Monday morning, to state DOTs warning what is at stake if Congress does not fix the Highway Trust Fund , this week shows it’s time for Congress to come together in a bipartisan fashion and Given the Highway Trust Fund’s impending insolvency, it is more critical than ever that Congress work together to pass legislation to that provides a sustainable, long-term funding solution to #FixTheTrustFund.

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New Year, New Congress, New Hope for Infrastructure Investment

January 9th, 2015 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

Photo credit: mlhradio

Photo credit: mlhradio

It’s a new year, and with a new Congress in session, there is hope that a federal funding solution for infrastructure can soon be reached. Congress has given us reasons to be optimistic, with more bipartisan support for infrastructure funding buzzing at the federal level. Upon reflecting on the past year’s infrastructure challenges, ranging from water main failures to increased highway congestion and a renewed focus on bridge disrepair, many lawmakers from both political parties are pressing for funding solutions which no longer rule out a possible gas tax increase. Senate Republican Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe indicated more open mindedness toward raising the federal gas tax to solve our transportation infrastructure deficit. Inhofe said that “everything is on the table,” and that his top priority is passing a long-term transportation bill. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) also agreed that Republicans should leave the door open for a gas tax increase, but defended it as a “user fee,” which ensures each driver pays his or her fair share. In addition to discussing a gas tax increase, legislators are carefully considering other options to fund infrastructure. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to introduce a bill in the new session of Congress to “authorize $1 trillion in spending over several years to rebuild the nation’s roads and bridges and invest in other infrastructure modernization projects.” Speaker of the House John Boehner noted that figuring out how to fund the highway bill is an important priority for this year. State governments are also starting the new year with plans to fund infrastructure. Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina have all recently increased their state gas taxes to help fund state transportation projects. In Minnesota, Sen. Amy Klobuchar plans to work across party lines to help pass a long-term transportation bill that will fund projects in her state. While state-level funding efforts are worthwhile, in order to meet the necessary infrastructure investment needs, we need a long-term, sustainable federal funding solution. Hopefully Congress can compromise on a funding solution before the Highway Trust Fund goes insolvent again in May.  

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This Week in Infrastructure: The Cascading Effect of Aging Infrastructure

December 19th, 2014 | By: Olivia Wolfertz

 
Photo credit: SnaPsi Сталкер

Photo credit: SnaPsi Сталкер

As the weather changes and our infrastructure continues to be neglected, issues and disruptions are increasing. Infrastructure collapses, like the water main break in DC, remind us that failing infrastructure is fragile and unpredictable—and should be continuously maintained to help prevent a crisis. On Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a 12-inch water main ruptured below ground, flooding three subway lines and damaging the streets above it. According to DC Water, the pipe was 61 years old, a relatively young pipe among a system with a median age of 79 years. Some pipes in the system even date back to the Civil War era. DC’s drinking water infrastructure requires $1.6 billion in upgrades over the next 20 years and the sewer system needs $2.5 billion in fixes.  There are 240,000 water main breaks per year and one every two minutes in the United States because of aging pipes. The DC water main break, which affected both the metro rails and streets above, shows the domino effect of one piece of infrastructure’s impact on others. DC is not the only place where aging infrastructure has shouted for investments. This week, the Nevada Section of ASCE released its state Report Card, where the overall grade was a C-. The report points to the state’s great transportation and infrastructure needs to be discussed in next year’s legislation session. In an op-ed piece from Vermont, the author called for stronger dam legislation, citing the Report Card for Vermont’s Infrastructure’s data. Due to increasing visible need for infrastructure repair, more and more states are taking action to fund infrastructure projects through various measures. In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a 12-year, $12 billion transportation proposal, which would be paid for with fees and a new carbon pollution charge. States like Michigan, Tennessee  and North Carolina are also pushing for transportation funding at the state level. Though action on the state level to increase infrastructure funds is encouraging, the best thing for our nation and our economy is to fix the Highway Trust Fund and increase the national gas tax to match inflation.

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