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America's Infrastructure Grades Remain Near Failing; D+ Grade Shows Greater Need for Investment, Infrastructure Built for the Future

March 9, 2017 - WASHINGTON, DC

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 09, 2017) - The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the quadrennial assessment of the nation's infrastructure. The 2017 Report Card found the national grade for infrastructure remains at a "D+" -- the same grade the United States received in 2013 -- suggesting only incremental progress was made over the last four years toward restoring America's infrastructure.

ASCE evaluated 16 categories of infrastructure in the 2017 Report Card, with grades ranging from a "B" for Rail to a "D-" for Transit. While the overall grade did not improve, seven categories did see progress. These improvements can be attributed to strong leadership, thoughtful policymaking, and investments that garnered measurable results.

"While our nation's infrastructure problems are significant, they are solvable," said ASCE President Dr. Norma Jean Mattei, P.E. "We need our elected leaders -- those who pledged to rebuild our infrastructure while on the campaign trail -- to follow through on those promises with investment and innovative solutions that will ensure our infrastructure is built for the future."

ASCE recommends the following solutions to raise the grades:

  • Sustained infrastructure investment, increasing investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025;
  • Bold leadership from officials at all levels of government and the private sector to ensure that investment is spent wisely, including planning for the costs of building, operating, and maintaining the infrastructure for its entire lifespan; and
  • Preparation for the needs of the future, to ensure infrastructure is more resilient and sustainable, with clear economic, social, and environmental benefits.

The 2017 Report Card also highlights the projected total investment required to bring current infrastructure to a grade of a "B" -- what ASCE considers to be an adequate grade. ASCE estimates that by 2025 a total investment of $4.59 trillion is required to improve the nation's infrastructure. After projecting current funding levels, the estimated funding shortfall totals slightly more than $2 trillion. If the United States continues on this trajectory and fails to invest, the nation will face serious economic consequences, including $3.9 trillion in losses to U.S. GDP and more than 2.5 million American jobs lost in 2025.

"Our infrastructure bill is overdue and our inaction is costing Americans $3,400 per year in lost disposal income," said Greg DiLoreto, P.E., a past ASCE president and the current chair of the ASCE Committee on America's Infrastructure, which prepared the Report Card. "While Congress and states have made some effort to improve infrastructure, it's not enough. To see real progress, we need to make long-term infrastructure investment a priority. Investing now will create economic opportunity, enhance quality of life, and ensure public health and safety."

The 2017 Infrastructure Report Card was released publicly during a news conference in Washington, D.C. Speakers included Dr. Mattei; Mr. DiLoreto; Tom Smith, ASCE's Executive Director; Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT); former governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America's Future; George Hawkins, CEO and general manager of DC Water; and Drew Greenblat, CEO of Marlin Steel. The event webcast is available at


Using a simple A to F school report card format, ASCE's Infrastructure Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of current infrastructure conditions and needs, assigning grades and making recommendations to raise them. The ASCE Committee on America's Infrastructure, made up of dedicated civil engineers from across the country with decades of expertise in all categories, prepares the Report Card, assessing all relevant data and reports, consulting with technical and industry experts, and assigning grades using the following criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.

In addition to the national Report Card, ASCE's sections and branches prepare state and regional Infrastructure Report Cards on a rolling basis.

Additional information regarding the Report Card, category grades, and state Report Cards and information, as well as infographics, videos, and other resources, can be found on or via the Report Card app in the Google Play and App Stores.


Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. Through its strategic initiatives, ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and seeks to "Raise the Bar" on engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.

Report Card Grades by Infrastructure Sector

AVIATION D D U.S. airports serve more than two million passengers
every day. The aviation industry is marked by
technologically advanced and economically efficient
aircraft, however, the associated infrastructure of
airports and air traffic control systems is not keeping
up. Congestion at airports is growing; it is expected
that 24 of the top 30 major airports may soon
experience "Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume" at least
one day every week. With a federally mandated cap on
how much airports can charge passengers for facility
expansion and renovation, airports struggle to keep up
with investment needs, creating a $42 billion funding
gap between 2016 and 2025.

BRIDGES C+ C+ The U.S. has 614,387 bridges, almost four in 10 of
which are 50 years or older. 56,007 -- 9.1% -- of the
nation's bridges were structurally deficient in 2016,
and on average there were 188 million trips across a
structurally deficient bridge each day. While the
number of bridges that are in such poor condition as to
be considered structurally deficient is decreasing, the
average age of America's bridges keeps going up and
many of the nation's bridges are approaching the end of
their design life. The most recent estimate puts the
nation's backlog of bridge rehabilitation needs at $123

DAMS D D Dams provide vital service and protection to our
communities and economy. The average age of the 90,580
dams in the country is 56 years. As our population
grows and development continues, the overall number of
high-hazard potential dams is increasing, with the
number climbing to nearly 15,500 in 2016. Due to the
lack of investment, the number of deficient high-hazard
potential dams has also climbed to an estimated 2,170
or more. It is estimated that it will require an
investment of nearly $45 billion to repair aging, yet
critical, high-hazard potential dams.

DRINKING D D Drinking water is delivered via one million miles of
WATER pipes across the country. Many of those pipes were laid
in the early to mid-20th century with a lifespan of 75
to 100 years. The quality of drinking water in the
United States remains high, but legacy and emerging
contaminants continue to require close attention. While
water consumption is down, there are still an estimated
240,000 water main breaks per year in the United
States, wasting over two trillion gallons of treated
drinking water. According to the American Water Works
Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to
maintain and expand service to meet demands over the
next 25 years.

ENERGY D+ D+ Much of the U.S. energy system predates the turn of the
20th century. Most electric transmission and
distribution lines were constructed in the 1950s and
1960s with a 50-year life expectancy, and the more than
640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the
lower 48 states' power grids are at full capacity.
Energy infrastructure is undergoing increased
investment to ensure long-term capacity and
sustainability; in 2015, 40% of additional power
generation came from natural gas and renewable systems.
Without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity
bottlenecks, and increased demand, as well as
increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will
likely experience longer and more frequent power

HAZARDOUS D+ D Over 18,000 sites and an associated 22 million acres of
WASTE land are related to the primary hazardous waste
programs that comprise much of the nation's hazardous
waste infrastructure, and more than half of the U.S.
population lives within three miles of a hazardous
waste site. The current capacity of the nation's
hazardous waste infrastructure is generally adequate,
owing in no small measure to significant improvements
in managing materials through recycling and reuse,
rather than disposal. There have also been significant
improvements in remediation technologies, resulting in
faster and less resource-intensive cleanup approaches.

INLAND D D- The United States' 25,000 miles of inland waterways and
WATERWAYS 239 locks form the freight network's "water highway."
This intricate system, operated and maintained by the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, supports more than half a
million jobs and delivers more than 600 million tons of
cargo each year, about 14% of all domestic freight.
Most locks and dams on the system are well beyond their
50-year design life, and nearly half of vessels
experience delays. Investment in the waterways system
has increased in recent years, but upgrades on the
system still take decades to complete.

LEVEES D D- A nationwide network of 30,000 documented miles of
levees protects communities, critical infrastructure,
and valuable property, with levees in the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers Levee Safety Program protecting over
300 colleges and universities, 30 professional sports
venues, 100 breweries, and an estimated $1.3 trillion
in property. As development continues to encroach in
floodplains along rivers and coastal areas, an
estimated $80 billion is needed in the next 10 years to
maintain and improve the nation's system of levees. In
2014 Congress passed the Water Resources Reform and
Development Act, which expanded the levee safety
program nationwide, but the program has not yet
received any funding.

PARKS & D+ C- A vast network of infrastructure goes into supporting
RECREATION more than seven billion outdoor recreational outings.
Americans enjoy park and recreation facilities
maintained by entities at all levels of government. At
the federal level, the National Park Service, U.S.
Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are
the main providers of park facilities. States and
localities provide the bulk of park and recreational
facilities that seven in 10 Americans use on a regular
basis. National forests and grasslands capture and
filter drinking water for 180 million people. America's
parks and public lands also support industries such as
lodging, restaurants and bars, grocery and convenience
stores, and gas stations.

PORTS C+ C The United States' 926 ports are essential to the
nation's competitiveness, serving as the gateway
through which 99% of overseas trade passes. Ports are
responsible for $4.6 trillion in economic activity --
roughly 26% of the U.S. economy. As ships get bigger,
congestion at landside connections to other components
of the freight network increasingly hinders ports'
productivity. Similarly, on the water side, larger
ships require deeper navigation channels, which only a
few U.S. ports currently have. To remain competitive
globally and with one another, ports have been
investing in expansion, modernization, and repair.

RAIL B C+ For more than 150 years the rail network has been a
critical component of the U.S. transportation system
and economy. Today it carries approximately one-third
of U.S. exports and delivers five million tons of
freight and approximately 85,000 passengers each day.
The private freight rail industry owns the vast
majority of the nation's rail infrastructure, and
continues to make significant capital investment --
$27.1 billion in 2015 -- to ensure the network's good
condition. U.S. rail still faces clear challenges, most
notably in passenger rail, which faces the dual
problems of aging infrastructure and insufficient

ROADS D D America's roads are often crowded, frequently in poor
condition, chronically underfunded, and are becoming
more dangerous. More than two out of every five miles
of America's urban interstates are congested and
traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted
time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of
highway pavement is in poor condition and our roads
have a significant and increasing backlog of
rehabilitation needs. After years of decline, traffic
fatalities increased by 7% from 2014 to 2015, with
35,092 people dying on America's roads.

SCHOOLS D+ D Every school day, nearly 50 million K-12 students and
six million adults occupy close to 100,000 public
school buildings on an estimated two million acres of
land. The nation continues to underinvest in school
facilities, leaving an estimated $38 billion annual
gap. As a result, 24% of public school buildings were
rated as being in fair or poor condition. While there
have been a number of insightful reports in recent
years, state and local governments are plagued by a
lack of comprehensive data on public school
infrastructure as they seek to fund, plan, construct,
and maintain quality school facilities.

SOLID C+ B- Overall management of municipal solid waste (MSW)
WASTE across America is currently in fair condition. In many
cases, the transport and disposal of MSW is self-funded
and managed by the private sector, and therefore is
sufficiently funded. Americans generate about 258
million tons of MSW annually, of which approximately
53% is deposited in landfills -- a share that has
plateaued in recent years. Currently, 34.6% of MSW is
recycled and 12.8% is combusted for energy production.
There is a need to change the way we think of how solid
waste is generated, managed, and potentially used as a
resource. Americans need to recognize that what is
routinely discarded may in fact be a reusable resource.

TRANSIT D- D Transit in America continues to grow, carrying 10.5
billion trips in 2015, and adding new lines and systems
every year. Yet the symptoms of overdue maintenance and
underinvestment have never been clearer. Despite
increasing demand, the nation's transit systems have
been chronically underfunded, resulting in aging
infrastructure and a $90 billion rehabilitation
backlog. While some communities are experiencing a
transit boom, many Americans still have inadequate
access to public transit.

WASTEWATER D+ D The nation's 14,748 wastewater treatment plants protect
public health and the environment. Years of treatment
plant upgrades and more stringent federal and state
regulations have significantly reduced untreated
releases and improved water quality nationwide. It is
expected that more than 56 million new users will be
connected to centralized treatment systems over the
next two decades, and an estimated $271 billion is
needed to meet current and future demands. Through new
methods and technologies that turn waste into energy,
the nation's 1,269 biogas plants help communities
better manage waste through reuse.


Lynn Badgley
(703) 295.6406


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