| WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, March 9
WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, March 9 U.S. infrastructure
was given a near-failing grade of D-plus by an engineering
association on Thursday, a repeat of a rating that could give
momentum to President Donald Trump's vow of a $1 trillion
investment to rebuild everything from roads to dams.
The D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers'
(ASCE) is unchanged from its last report card in 2013,
suggesting that only minor progress had been made in improving
The ASCE estimated in a statement that the United States
needed to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 to bring its
infrastructure to an adequate B- grade, a figure about $2
trillion higher than current funding levels.
"To see real progress, we need to make long-term
infrastructure investment a priority," said Greg DiLoreto, chair
of the ASCE's Committee on America's Infrastructure, which
prepared the report.
In its report card, the ASCE said substandard infrastructure
was costing each American family as much as $3,400 in disposable
income a year. It also noted that “after years of decline,
traffic fatalities increased by 7 percent from 2014 to 2015,
with 35,092 people dying on America’s roads.”
America’s water systems are leaking trillions of gallons of
drinking water and more than 2,000 dams are at high risk of
failure, the report said.
The ASCE's report could fuel the growing debate over
infrastructure spending in Washington. In an address to Congress
last week Trump said he would lawmakers to pass legislation that
would produce $1 trillion in infrastructure investment and
millions of new jobs.
Trump, a Republican and New York real estate developer, met
on Wednesday with business leaders to discuss infrastructure
Trump has not provided details but he has talked about a tax
credit to encourage private sector investment. State governors
have sent Trump a list of 428 projects they would like funded
under a public works plan.
An analysis by the Brookings Institution think tank last
month said spending on public works could make the economy more
efficient and spur lagging productivity growth, a key factor in
boosting Americans' standard of living.
Citing Commerce Department data, Brookings said that yearly
government investment in public works had fallen by almost
two-thirds in terms of its share of the economy from 1980 to
The ASCE gave the nation’s dams a D grade, and said problems
go beyond California's 49-year-old Oroville Dam, where nearly
200,000 people were evacuated last month after drainage channels
for the dam were damaged by heavy rainfall. (here)
"The average age of the 90,580 dams in the country is 56
years," the report noted, adding that “the number of deficient
high-hazard potential dams has also climbed to an estimated
2,170 or more.”
In the ASCE's A-to-F grading of 16 infrastructure
categories, with A the top grade, seven areas showed progress
and three declined.
The highest grade - B - went to rail, up from C+ in 2013.
The report said significant spending, including $27.1 billion in
2015, was a major factor in the improvement.
The lowest grade was D- for transit, down from D four years
ago. Chronically underfunded rail and bus systems face a $90
billion rebuilding backlog, the ASCE said.
The drinking water system also ranked a D, the same as 2013.
Water main breaks waste more 2 trillion gallons of treated
drinking water per year, and “legacy and emerging contaminants”
need monitoring. Pipes laid in the start or middle of the last
century are pushing the limits of expected 75- to 100-year
Lead in the water of Flint, Michigan, has attracted
widespread notice, but a Reuters investigation last year found
that the city was by no means alone, with some cities
registering even higher levels of the poison. (here)
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and James Dalgleish)