State of U.S. Infrastructure
Another D Minus Report Card, but Shows Improvement
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers produces a graded report card www.infrastructurereportcard.org of the condition and performance of U.S. infrastructure. The overall infrastructure grade (D-) remains the same as the 2013 assessment, however, 7 of the 16 infrastructure categories saw improvement: hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, rail, schools and wastewater. Of these, rail received the highest category grade (B), while transit received the lowest (D-minus).
A team of 28 civil engineers from across the U.S. prepared the report card, assessing 16 infrastructure categories. The ASCE notes the U.S. Congress and some states have recently made efforts to invest more in infrastructure, however, those efforts, in their estimation, do not come close to the $2 trillion needed. To close the $2 trillion 10-year investment gap, the report asserts the U.S. must increase investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of GDP by 2025. Congress and the states must invest an additional $206 billion each year "to maintain our global competitiveness," and "to prevent the economic consequences to families, business, and the economy." The report estimates that a failure to do so "would cause a $3.9 trillion hit to the gross domestic product by 2025, $7 trillion in lost business sales by 2025, and 2.5 million lost jobs by 2025."
The report says we can begin with the following steps:
1. Put the "trust" back into "trust funds." Dedicated public funding sources on the local, state, and federal levels need to be consistently and sufficiently funded from user-generated fees, with infrastructure trust funds never used to pay for or offset other parts of a budget.
2. Fix the Highway Trust Fund by raising the federal motor fuel tax. To ensure long-term, sustainable funding for the federal surface transportation program the current user fee - 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel - must be raised by at least 25 cents per gallon and tied to inflation to restore its purchasing power, fill the funding deficit, and ensure reliable funding for the future.
3. Authorize programs to improve specific categories of deficient infrastructure and support that commitment by fully funding them in an expedient, prioritized manner.
Infrastructure owners and operators must charge, and Americans must be willing to pay, rates and fees that reflect the true cost of using, maintaining, and improving all infrastructure, including our water, waste, transportation and energy services.