2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure Get the full experience

Now Available for Your iPad

Save America's Instrastructure Pocket Guide - Get the best experience
2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure Get the full experience

Now Available for Your Android

2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure Get the full experience

Now Available for Your Android Tablet

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

Author Archive

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.

No Comments »

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.

No Comments »

Democrats’ Infrastructure Blueprint Furthers Legislative Conversation

January 26th, 2017 | By: Becky Moylan

Days after President Trump was the first to use the word “infrastructure” in an inaugural address, Senate Democrats doubled-down on his promise to invest in infrastructure by offering their own plan to increase investment by $1 trillion over 10 years, and purportedly create more than 15 million new jobs in the process. The plan, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and dubbed “A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure,” proposes many investments that ASCE has advocated for over the last two decades, including in the 2013 Infrastructure Report Card. The obvious one is increased investment. At $1 trillion—a figure originally proposed by President Trump during his campaign—this or a similar plan would go a long way in closing the $1.6 trillion infrastructure investment gap. The “Blueprint” also emphasizes addressing backlogged needs, which have been growing for far too long and are at the root of our nation’s “D+” infrastructure. The “Blueprint” offers a good start to furthering our lawmakers’ dialogue on what a large infrastructure bill should include, and how our nation can wisely invest $1 trillion, ensuring ROI and addressing our significant infrastructure needs. In particular, the “Blueprint’s” approach of dividing investment across the 16 categories of infrastructure is important to improving the entirety of the interdependent infrastructure system. But to make the most of this substantial of an investment with an eye on the future, it will be even more important to select the right projects. ASCE has outlined its vision for what a large infrastructure investment bill should include in our “Principles for Infrastructure Investment.” We will rely on these “Principles” to engage Congress as it reacts to the “Blueprint” and considers a path forward on this critical economic and social issue, balancing needed investment with judicious planning to effectively address our infrastructure needs. Here are some of the highlights of how the Senate Democrats’ “Blueprint” breaks down from ASCE’s perspective*:
  • $210 billion for roads and bridges – ASCE recently identified surface transportation as the infrastructure area with the largest unfunded need.
  • $10 billion to expand TIGER – Increasing funding into proven programs is an excellent way to ensure that the investment is used effectively.
  • $110 billion for water and sewer – The “Blueprint” notes that underinvestment has happened in our drinking and wastewater infrastructure in part because of a hesitancy to increase water rates. An infusion of additional funding will help bring these systems back up to where they need to be for Americans’ safety and quality of life.
  • $180 billion for rail and bus – Divided into $130 billion for public transit and $50 billion for rail, which will include acceleration of implementing Positive Train Control.
  • $200 billion for transformative projects – Vital Infrastructure Projects (VIPs) as the “Blueprint” calls them would help to elevate not just the quality of our infrastructure, but also put us on a strong path for the future.
  • $75 billion for schools – Most of our school buildings were built to originally teach baby boomers and modernization is desperately needed so that schools can prepare students for the 21st
  • $65 billion for ports, inland waterways, and airports – Broken down to $30 billion for airports, including through the effective Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and to implement NextGen, $10 billion for dredging, lock maintenance and other needs for ports and inland waterways, and $25 billion to build more resilient communities, which ASCE has highlighted the importance of as one of its eight key criteria when assessing infrastructure.
  • $100 billion for energy – Including upgrades in transmission and distribution, along with increased resilience.
  • $20 billion for public lands – Directed in part to increased funding for the National Park Service, which infamously has had challenges maintaining its infrastructure, including the iconic Arlington Memorial Bridge.
  • $10 billion in seed money for an “IBank” – Expected to be $100 billion for infrastructure once fully leveraged, this would be a way to test the Infrastructure Bank concept on the national level. The Blueprint also notes the need to protect WIFIA and TIFIA, two programs that like TIGER have proven value and should be used to ensure strategic investment.
Missing from the proposal is funding of water resources projects authorized in WRDA14 and WIIN16. These programs would improve dams, levees, and other water resource infrastructure that are in need of improvement and would benefit from an infusion of investment. One other major sticking point when it comes to federal infrastructure investment: How to pay for it. Democrats maintain the proposal’s $1 trillion investment would be covered by closing tax loopholes.  Under its “Principles,” ASCE supports infrastructure investment from all levels of government and the private sector. Ultimately, our nation needs a long-term, sustainable funding solution for all areas of infrastructure. A down payment to modernize our infrastructure that is funded, not just financed, will put us on the right track. *Italicized text notes ASCE’s comments on specific parts of the proposal based on ASCE Public Policy Statements.

No Comments »

Help Get WRDA Finished

December 2nd, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

With plans for Congress to adjourn at the end of next week, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 is still waiting for final passage. The bill is being conferenced by the House and Senate, which has been making good progress on a compromised bill that incorporates parts of each chamber’s version of WRDA. However, in the past 24 hours there have been some political roadblocks that may put a final bill in jeopardy. To help raise the grades for dams, inland waterways, levees, ports, and drinking water we need you to take action now! Call the House and Senate Leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and ask them to move WRDA to the floor for a vote before Congress adjourns for the year. Together we can help WRDA cross the finish line in 2016, getting it back on the two-year cycle that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other water resources programs.

No Comments »

President-Elect’s Infrastructure Plan Gets Media Attention

November 21st, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

For 18 months leading up to the presidential election, infrastructure notably was the policy issue that both candidates agreed on. The issue is one that the Washington Post even cited in a plea for a substantive campaign season, and story after story highlighted the bipartisan issue. It’s two weeks past Election Day, and the dust is starting to settle on how the new administration is taking shape, and what its priorities will in the First 100 Days. Infrastructure remains among the most discussed issues, as President-Elect Trump mentioned it specifically in his acceptance speech. There’s been significant media coverage on infrastructure and what has been said and is known about the Trump Infrastructure Plan. Here are a few articles and opinion pieces on what’s next for infrastructure policy under the 45th president: Five Things to Know About Trump’s Infrastructure Plan – The Hill Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan faces congressional scrutiny – CNN Our infrastructure is in disrepair. Will Trump invest in it? – PBS Trump Eyes a Bipartisan Idea to Pay for Rebuilt Roads, Bridges – Roll Call Trump’s infrastructure plan: Potholes or a smooth ride? – USA Today How Trump Might Try to Fix Bridges and Highways – Bloomberg   With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi indicating this could be an area of bipartisan agreement, 2017 might be the year of infrastructure investment. There’s a $1.6 trillion investment gap, so passing a bill that strategically improves our nation’s infrastructure without supplanting current funding would be a welcome change to raise our infrastructure grades.      

No Comments »

A Plan for Aging Dams

October 20th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

Earlier this week, the Center for American Progress(CAP) released a report on U.S. dams, Aging Dams and Clogged Rivers: An Infrastructure Plan for U.S. Waterways. The report makes the economic case for the need to increase investment in our infrastructure, citing ASCE’s Failure to Act economic study that found we’re currently paying about half our nation’s infrastructure bill across 10 categories of infrastructure. It also points to the safety risks of this underinvestment, particularly given the “D” grade for our nation’s dams in the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The report was released with a panel discussion with stakeholders ranging from the Nez Perce Tribe to the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Dams tend to be among the more forgotten pieces of infrastructure, given attention primarily when something goes wrong. This report is helping to raise awareness about the importance of dam infrastructure, and the challenges our nation’s 84,000 aging dams are facing. While many dams perform useful purposes, such as drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, flood control, and recreation. However, others have outlived their useful lives, no longer serving the purpose for which they were intended. Repairing, rehabilitating, and removing dams is costly. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that it will require an investment of $21 billion to repair aging, yet critical, high-hazard dams. But there are solutions that can help address these challenges, increasing our dam safety. One is in Senate’s version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which creates a national dam rehabilitation program to repair, rehabilitate, and remove non-federal dams. It is now up to the leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to include this valuable program in the final version of the bill. CAP’s report also includes policy recommendations to increase our dam safety, including incentivizing the removal of obsolete dams and modernizing dams the are providing useful service. Stay tuned to find out if the National Dam Rehabilitation Program comes to fruition.

No Comments »

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.

No Comments »

New Game Changers are here!

September 20th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

Today we added 15 new #GameChangers and two new trends to the repertoire. These projects showcase the power that innovation and investment can have to solve problems and improve our infrastructure. “Rebuilding Stronger” and “Sustainable Solutions” are the new trends we’ve identified that are shaping the way infrastructure is designed, built, and maintained. The projects in these two new trends demonstrate that resilient and sustainable infrastructure are more than buzz words—they are tangible solutions to the new challenges U.S. infrastructure is facing. Check out all the new #GameChangers: And if you know of one we’ve missed, let us know. We’re on the hunt for #GameChangers to include in the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

No Comments »

Congress Returns to Town — Zika, Federal Budget and Water Resources Legislation All At Play

September 6th, 2016 | By: Becky Moylan

Coming off a long summer break, Congress returns today to several realities it left unfinished in June. While a Water Resources bill is the top opportunity for infrastructure policy, other pressing issues may take precedence. In the warm months since leaving town, the Zika virus has spread across Florida and its reach is expected to continue growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to run out of funds to combat the virus by the end of this month. Legislation to provide additional funding has stalled while legislators clash over Republicans’ inclusion of a prohibition on funding going to family planning medical clinics. In a case of reoccurring déjà vu, Congress must also pass a bill to fund government agencies, before fiscal year 2016 funding expires on September 30th. Congress is meant to pass 12 separate appropriations bills each year to fund the federal government, but this rarely happens. Instead spending bills are usually combined into a single “omnibus” bill. If Congress thinks it won’t be able to pass an appropriations bill(s) before the end of the fiscal year, it passes a continuing resolution (CR) which extends the previous year’s funding levels with minor changes. With the House having passed only five appropriations bills and the Senate having only passed three, they are now expected to turn their focus to a CR. The length of the CR is up for debate. For some Senate Republicans, who are in jeopardy of losing Senate control to Democrats, passing a longer-term (i.e. six month) CR would mean “giving away the store” to Democrats. They would prefer a two-month CR, leaving them in the majority for passing an omnibus during a lame-duck session. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would also like a short-term CR and has said he opposes any bill that goes past December. Outside conservative groups and some House Republicans want a longer-term deal—at least in to the new year/new Congress—to avoid a year-end deal-making session between a lame-duck Congress and a lame-duck President in which Democrats could force Republicans to accept additional spending or risk a shutdown at Christmastime. One glimmer of hope in all the legislative fights left on the calendar is consideration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. Each chamber has passed a version of the major water infrastructure bill out of committee and the bill now awaits floor action. In an election cycle that generally sees political messaging bills over bipartisan infrastructure bills, moving a WRDA would be an exception. WRDA bills authorize important navigation, flood control and ecosystem restoration projects and studies at the Army Corps of Engineers. The Senate bill (S. 2848) also included several drinking water and clean water infrastructure programs.  

No Comments »

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.

No Comments »

Help Save America's Infrastructure!
Hide Buttons