Management And Accounting Web

ASCE Report Cards on America's Infrastructure

2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017

Provided by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

Economics Related Main | Environmental Cost MainPolitical Issues Main | Social Accounting Main

Citation: Martin, J. R. Not dated. ASCE report cards for America's infrastructure. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/ASCE2001Infrastructure.htm

The American Society of Civil Engineers provides a comprehensive assessment of America's infrastructure every four years. For 2017 the ASCE studied and evaluated the status of the nation's infrastructure in sixteen categories as indicated in the exhibit below. Deteriorating infrastructure affects our safety, overall quality of life, and makes it more difficult for us to compete in the global economy. Grades are based on eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Although the U.S. seems to be doing better in some areas (Hazardous waste, Inland Waterways, Levees, Ports, Rail, Schools, and Wastewater), the overall grade assigned by the civil engineering study was D+ for 2017 (Same as 2013). A grade of D is defined as "poor, at risk," i.e., "fair condition, mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life."

See the following Table for Grades given to each category for the last five report cards including notes on the 2017 report.

ASCE Report Cards on America's Infrastructure with Notes on 2017

Infrastructure
Category

2001
Grade
2005
Grade
2009
Grade
2013
Grade
2017
Grade
Notes on 2017 Infrastructure
Aviation D D+ D D D Airports will have a $42 billion funding gap between 2016-2025
Bridges C C C C+ C+ Forty percent of U.S. bridges are 50 years or older. Nine percent are structurally deficient in 2016. The backlog of bridge rehabilitation is at $123 billion.
Dams D D D D D The average age of U.S. dams is 56 years. There were 15,500 high-hazard dams in 2016. Repair would cost $45 billion.
Drinking Water D D- D- D D There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year. An estimated $1 trillion is needed to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years.
Energy
(National Power Grid)
D+ D D+ D+ D+ Most of the electric lines in the U.S. were constructed in the 1950s and 1960s with a life expectancy of 50 years. Many are at full capacity. Without improvement there will likely be more frequent power interruptions.
Hazardous Waste D+ D D D D+ Fifty-three percent of the U.S. population lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site.
Inland Navigable Waterways D+ D- D- D- D Most locks and dams on the inland waterways are older than their 50-year design life.
Levees - - D- D- D An estimated $80 billion is needed over the next ten years to maintain and improve the U.S. system of levees.
Ports - - - C C+ 99% of U.S. trade passes through 926 ports accounting for 26% of the U.S economy. To remain competitive globally the ports require deeper navigation channels to accommodate larger ships.
Public Parks & Recreation - C- C- C- D+ In 2015, the National Park Service reached $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance.
Rail - C- C- C+ B The private freight rail industry owns most of the nation's rail infrastructure and has made significant capital investments, i.e., $27.1 billion in 2015. However, much of the passenger rail infrastructure is beyond its useful life.
Roads D+ D D- D D 20% of the U.S. four million miles of highways are in poor condition. The U.S. has been underfunding its highway system for years resulting in a $836 billion backlog in needed highway and bridge repair.
Schools D- D D D D+ The U.S. continues to underinvest in school facilities leaving a $38 billion annual gap. 24% of public school buildings were rated in fair or poor condition.
Solid Waste C+ C+ C+ B- C+ Managing waste needs to change, recognizing that what we discard may be a reusable resource.
Transit C- D+ D D D- The nations transit system has been underfunded resulting in a $90 billion rehabilitation backlog.
Wastewater D D- D- D D+ The EPA estimates $271 billion is needed for wastewater infrastructure over the next 25 years.
Overall D+ D D D+ D+ There is a $2.0 trillion 10-year investment gap in our infrastructure.

For the full 2017 report see http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

The report card also includes state-by-state reports. See http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/state-by-state/

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My 2013 summary is as follows:

For 2013 the ASCE studied and evaluated the status of the nation's infrastructure in sixteen categories as indicated in the exhibit below. Grades are based on eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operations and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Although the U. S. seems to be doing better in some areas, the overall grade assigned by the civil engineering study was D+ for 2013. See the following Table for Grades given to each category for the last four report cards including notes on the 2013 report.

I place links to this summary from a number of topics because our infrastructure can be viewed from many different perspectives. From a social accounting perspective, perhaps accountants should be involved in estimating the cost and benefits of both improvements and lack of improvements in the infrastructure? From an environmental perspective, what are the cost to the environment of improving and maintaining the infrastructure? From a political perspective, what effect does the push for limited government and a balanced budget have on our infrastructure and is this in the best interest of our future prosperity? From an economic perspective, infrastructure is the underlying foundation that connects the nation's businesses, communities, and people. Our infrastructure systems are failing and without a first class infrastructure system the U.S. will not remain one of the most competitive economies in the world.1 The American infrastructure system will either be the source of our prosperity, or the source of our decline.

The following table is from my 2013 summary.

ASCE Report Cards on America's Infrastructure with Notes on 2013

Infrastructure
Category

2001
Grade
2005
Grade
2009
Grade
2013
Grade
Notes on 2013 Infrastructure
Aviation D D+ D D The FAA estimates that the cost of congestion and delays was nearly $22 billion in 2012 and will increase to $34 billion.
Bridges C C C C+ Over 11% of the nation's 607,380 bridges are structurally deficient. The cost to repair these deficient bridges is estimated to be $76 billion.
Dams D D D D The average age for the 84,000 dams is 52 years. The number of high hazard dams was nearly 14,000 in 2012. There are over 4,000 deficient dams. The cost of needed repairs is estimated at $21 billion.
Drinking Water D D- D- D Pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the U.S. The cost to replace all of this in the future is estimated to be $1 trillion.
Energy
(National Power Grid)
D+ D D+ D+ Some of the nation's aging electrical grid and pipeline distribution systems originated in the 1880s. Although additional high-voltage and transmission lines are planned, energy availability will become an even greater challenge in the future.
Hazardous Waste D+ D D D There has been some success in the cleanup of the nation's hazardous waste and brownfield sites. However, the EPA estimated that one in four Americans lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site and there are more than 400,000 brownfields sites that await cleanup.
Inland Navigable Waterways D+ D- D- D- The condition of the inland waterways system remains poor and investment levels remain stagnant. The system has not been updated since 1950 and more than half the locks are over 50 years old
Levees - - D- D- The nation's 50 states have an estimated 100,000 miles of levees. Public safety remains at risk from these aging structures and the needed repair cost is estimated to be $100 billion.
Ports - - - C This is a new and important category. It is estimated that 95% of overseas trade produced and consumed by the U.S. moves through our ports. Port authorities and private sector partners have $46 billion in planned improvements. However, federal funding has declined in this area.
Public Parks & Recreation - C- C- C- States and local governments struggle to maintain support for their parks and recreation facilities, and the National Park Service estimates its maintenance backlog at around $11 billion.
Rail - C- C- C+ The grade for rail represents the greatest improvement with increases in both passengers and freight, and greater investment in the railroad system.
Roads D+ D D- D Forty-two percent of the nation's urban highways remain congested at an estimated cost of $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually. The cost to significantly improve conditions is estimated to be $170 billion per year.
Schools D- D D D The investment needed to modernize and maintain our nation's schools is estimated to be around $270 billion. However, a complete picture of the condition of our schools is unknown.
Solid Waste C+ C+ C+ B- Americans are recycling more. In 2010, 85 million tons of trash (34% of the total) were recycled or composted. This was up from 14.5% in 1980.
Transit C- D+ D D 45% of American households lack any access to transit. It is estimated that deficient and deteriorating transit systems cost the U.S. economy $90 billion per year.
Wastewater D D- D- D $298 billion in Capital investment is needed for the nation's wastewater and storm water systems over the next 20 years.
Overall D+ D D D+ Total investment needed. I did not see this amount but you can add it up.

For the full 2013 Report Card in pdf format see http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/documents/2013-Report-Card.pdf

The following table is from my 2009 Summary.

ASCE Report Cards on America's Infrastructure with Notes on 2009

Infrastructure
Category

2001
Grade
2005
Grade
2009
Grade
Notes on 2009 Infrastructure
Aviation D D+ D Outdated traffic control system.
Bridges C C C 26% of the nation's bridges are deficient or obsolete.
Dams D D D 4,000 deficient dams. 1,819 are high hazard.
Drinking Water D D- D- $11 billion needed to replace aging facilities.
Energy
(National Power Grid)
D+ D D+ $1.5 trillion needed investment by 2030.
Hazardous Waste D+ D D Superfund cleanup of the worst toxic waste sites has declined steadily.
Inland Navigable Waterways D+ D- D- $125 billion needed for replacement of locks.
Levees - - D- $100 billion needed to repair the nation's levees.
Public Parks & Recreation - C- C- $7 billion maintenance backlog.
Rail - C- C- $200 billion needed for growth.
Roads D+ D D- 4.2 billion hours lost per year stuck in traffic cost $78.2 billion. $186 billion needed to improve the nations highways.
Schools D- D D $322 billion needed for repair.
Solid Waste C+ C+ C+ Public safety threatened by increasing disposal of electronic waste.
Transit C- D+ D $15.8 billion needed to maintain conditions, $21.6 billion needed to improve from current to good conditions.
Wastewater D D- D- $390 billion needed over the next 20 years.
Overall D+ D D Investment needed $2.2 trillion.

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1 To find out where the U.S. is in terms of global competitiveness see Martin, J. R. Not dated. World Competitiveness Reports. Management And Accounting Web. http://maaw.info/WorldCompetitivenessReports.htm