The Oroville Dam crisis in California once again has America’s aging infrastructure in the headlines.
President Donald Trump has pledged to devote up to $1 trillion in federal spending to infrastructure projects over the next decade. Unfortunately, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, even $1 trillion may not fix the problem.
Every four years, the ASCE publishes its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, a comprehensive assessment of the state of U.S. infrastructure. A brand new report is due out on March 9, but the most recent report from 2013 paints a bleak picture.
The ASCE gave the overall health of America’s infrastructure a D+ grade. Perhaps even more troubling, the ASCE estimated that U.S. infrastructure needs $3.6 trillion in investments by 2020.
Even Trump’s aggressive plan may fall well short of the type of investment America needs to keep critical infrastructure safe.
Report Card In Review
Here’s a summary of the letter grades the ASCE gave a number of different infrastructure categories back in 2013:
- Aviation: D
- Bridges: C+
- Dams: D
- Drinking Water: D
- Energy: D+
- Hazardous Waste: D
- Inland Waterways: D-
- Levees: D-
- Ports: C
- Public Parks & Recreation: C-
- Rail: C+
- Roads: D
- Schools: D
- Solid Waste: B-
- Transit: D
- Wastewater: D
“While the modest progress is encouraging, it is clear that we have a significant backlog of overdue maintenance across our infrastructure systems, a pressing need for modernization, and an immense opportunity to create reliable, long-term funding sources to avoid wiping out our recent gains,” the ASCE wrote.
As the Oroville Dam crisis illustrates, infrastructure maintenance eventually extends beyond a political issue and becomes a public safety issue. The upcoming 2017 ASCE report will likely serve as a reality check that Trump’s infrastructure spending initiative may only be a fraction of what the nation needs to alleviate the strain our growing population is placing on aging infrastructure.
Shares of the iShares S&P Global Infrastructure Index IGF are up 0.2 percent since Election Day.Image Credit: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America - Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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