Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ASCE Releases Timely Infrastructure Report Card; $2.2 Trillion Needed

Jan 28: With President Obama and Congress considering a massive economic stimulus in the range of $800 billion to over a trillion dollars [See WIMS 1/15/09], the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its sobering 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The timely assessment assigns a cumulative grade of D to the nation’s infrastructure and notes that a five-year investment need of $2.2 trillion from all levels of government and the private sector. According to an announcement, decades of underfunding and inattention have jeopardized the ability of our nation’s infrastructure to support our economy and facilitate our way of life. Since ASCE’s last assessment in 2005 there has been little change in the condition of the nation’s roads, bridges, drinking water systems and other public works, and the cost of improvement has increased by more than half a trillion dollars.

ASCE President D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., F.ASCE said, “Crumbling infrastructure has a direct impact on our personal and economic health, and the nation’s infrastructure crisis is endangering our future prosperity. Our leaders are looking for solutions to the nation’s current economic crisis. Not only could investment in these critical foundations have a positive impact, but if done responsibly, it would also provide tangible benefits to the American people, such as reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, clean and abundant water supplies and protection against natural hazards.”

As the nation’s infrastructure receives focused attention from the White House, Congress and the public, ASCE’s 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure provides an assessment of the condition and need for investment of 15 infrastructure categories, including, for the first time, levees. While there has been some improvement in energy since 2005, overall conditions have remained the same for bridges, dams, drinking water, hazardous waste, inland waterways, public parks and recreation, rail, schools, solid waste and wastewater, and have worsened in aviation, roads and transit. Security, a category that was added to the Report Card in 2005, and which received an incomplete grade, has been removed from the list of assessed categories and added into the methodology used to assess each individual category. Grades ranged from a high of C+ for solid waste to a low of D- for drinking water, inland waterways, levees, roads and wastewater.

The Report Card also presents five key solutions for raising the nation’s infrastructure GPA. These include: Increasing federal leadership in infrastructure; Promoting sustainability and resilience; Developing federal, state and regional infrastructure plans; Addressing life-cycle costs and ongoing maintenance; and, Increasing and improving infrastructure investment from all stakeholders.

The report indicates that redevelopment of brownfields sites over the past five years generated an estimated 191,338 new jobs and $408 million annually in extra revenues for localities, but federal funding for “Superfund” cleanup of the nation's worst toxic waste sites continues to decline steadily. Scoring a grade of D-, the nation’s drinking water and wastewater systems and inland waterways face difficult problems. Leaking pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water a day, and there is an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities that are near the end of their useful life and to comply with existing and future federal water regulations.
Aging systems discharge billions of gallons of untreated wastewater into U.S. surface waters each year, and an estimated $390 billion must be invested over the next 20 years to update or replace existing systems and build new ones to meet increasing demand. Finally, while the average tow barge can carry the equivalent of 870 tractor trailer loads, 30 of the 257 locks still in use on the nation’s inland waterways were built in the 1800s and another 92 are more than 60 years old. The cost to replace the present system of locks is estimated at more than $125 billion.

The 2009 Report Card was developed by an advisory council of 28 civil engineers representing each of the infrastructure categories, as well as a broad spectrum of civil engineering disciplines. Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety and resilience. A detailed report, which accompanies the grades released, will be released on March 25, 2009.

On January 21, ASCE released their recommended ‘Principles for Infrastructure Stimulus Investment’ designed to help guide lawmakers and the Obama administration when allocating economic stimulus funding for infrastructure projects poised to aid in rebuilding the nation’s economy. ASCE is encouraged by last week’s introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, which highlights a shared focus on accountability and infrastructure investment. This investment is expected to create and sustain jobs, and begin to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure if appropriately applied to areas that most require federal support.

Access a release on the Report Card (
click here). Access more information on the Report Card and links to a webcast (click here). Access a release on the Principles for Infrastructure Stimulus (click here). [*All]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All of us around the Great Lakes region understand the threat that outdated wastewater infrastructure can pose to people, businesses and communities. More than 23 billion gallons of sewage overflows into the lakes every year, closing beaches and threatening public health.

The good news is we have solutions. Congress and the Obama administration can invest in our communities. I encourage you to read more about how we can both create jobs and protect national resources like the Great Lakes at: