America’s Infrastructure Gets a C-. It’s an Improvement Though

Every four years the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a report card assigning a letter grade to the nation’s infrastructure. ASCE issued their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card earlier this month.

Our country’s grade in 2021? A disappointing C-.

It’s an improvement though. When ASCE issued their 2017 Infrastructure Report Card we didn’t even pass the class with a grade of D+.

In short, there’s room for improvement. A lot of room for improvement.

C- is just the cumulative grade however. ASCE’s Report Card is divided into industry segments with grades assigned to each segment. Individual grades for some, but not all, of the segments include the following:

  1. Aviation: The nation’s airports received a grade of D+. According to the Report Card, terminal, gate and ramp availability are not meeting the needs of a growing passenger base which has increased from 964.7 million to 1.2 billion per year and a has a 10-year shortfall of $111 billion.

  2. Bridges: The nation’s bridges received a grade of C. According to the Report Card, there are more than 617,000 bridges across the United States, 42% of these bridges are at least 50 years old, 7.5% of these bridges are considered structurally deficient. The backlog for repairs and upgrades is estimated at $125 billion.

  3. Public Transit: The nation’s public transit system received a grade of D-. According to the Report Card, 45% of Americans have no access to public transit, and for those that do, the nation’s public transit system is aging, with a 4176 billion backlog in upgrades and repairs.

  4. Roads: The nation’s roads received a grade of D. According to the Report Card, 40% of the nation’s road are now in poor or mediocre condition, resulting in motorists have to pay na average of $1,000 per year in wasted time and fuel.

  5. Schools: The nation’s public schools received a grade of D+. According to the Report Card, public school facilities represent the second largest sector of public infrastructure spending after highways. More than one-third of public schools use portable buildings due to capacity constraints, state funding is down by 31%, and $38 billion is needed to upgrade the nation’s public schools.

In addition to a national report card, ASCE also issues report cards for each state. For 2021, California’s infrastructure received an overall grade of C-.

According to the Report Card for California, while California voters have made strides in recent years to raise additional revenue for infrastructure, the state has a lot of catching up to do and large funding gaps remain. This is particularly important as California’s economy continues grow – surpassing that of the United Kingdom in 2018 to become the world’s fifth largest economy – and over the next 20 years the state’s population is expected to grow by 25% or by over an additional 10 million people.

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