The American Society of Civil Engineer’s (ASCE) 2021 Report card rated C- America’s overall infrastructure system. The report was released on 3 March 2021.
Using an A to F school report card format, the rating reflects the comprehensive assessment of the current infrastructure conditions and needs of all 17 categories of the US’s Infrastructure.
The ASCE article says that although the overall rating of C- is an improvement from a D+ grade from its 2017 report card and its highest rating in twenty years, the report finds that the infrastructure gap continues to grow.
“That gap has risen from $2.2 trillion over ten years in the last report to $2.59 trillion in the latest study, meaning a funding gap of nearly $260 billion per year.”
According to ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith, the country has not made the investments to maintain Infrastructure, with some built over 50 years ago.
Underinvestment risk economic losses, high costs to consumers, business, manufacturers and quality of life, and the country has to invest in Infrastructure urgently, he added.
Click the link to see the ratings of its 17 infrastructures, from its Aviation to its Wastewater.
According to the article, the 2021 Report Card found three overarching trends affecting the US infrastructure:
- Maintenance backlogs continue to be an issue, but asset management helps prioritized limited funding,
- Federal investments can significantly move the needle, as seen in the improved inland waterways, ports, and drinking water grades. Additionally, state and local governments have made progress, such as leveraging gas tax to fund transportation investments, and
- There are still infrastructure sectors where data is scarce or unreliable.
Thirty-one civil engineers, who also sits as ASCE Committee on America’s Infrastructure, prepared the Report Card.
These engineers from all parts of the United States, having decades of expertise in all infrastructure types categories, assigned grades on all infrastructures on the following criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.
When did America’s infrastructure report card got started.
According to the Report Card History, the report card on America’s Infrastructure started in 1988 with the congressionally chartered National Council on Public Works Improvement report, Fragile Foundations: A Report on America’s Public Works. It gave America’s infrastructure an overall grade of C.
A decade later, when the federal government indicated they would not update the report, the ASCE took over, using the same approach and methodology to publish its first Report Card on America’s Infrastructure in 1998, which gave an overall grade of D.
Since 1998, the ASCE produced a report card every four years – 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2021. In each report card, the Society finds that the same infrastructure problem exists and that the US infrastructure is “aging, underperforming and in need of sustained care and action” (Report Card History, 2021).
The use of national report cards is a useful tool for infrastructure management practitioners and funders. It provides focus on the size of national infrastructure issues and priority areas for action.