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April 11, 2021

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U.S. infrastructure gets C- from engineers as roads deteriorate

$5.9 trillion in work needed over next decade, group says

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FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2021, file photo, a pickup traverses the Franklin Street bridge in Michigan City, Ind. The historic structure, which was built in the 1930s, will be closed again for repairs in a few weeks and La Porte County officials have begun discussion of its replacement. America's infrastructure has scored near-failing grades for its deteriorating roads, public transit and storm water systems due to years of inaction from the federal government.
FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2021, file photo, a pickup traverses the Franklin Street bridge in Michigan City, Ind. The historic structure, which was built in the 1930s, will be closed again for repairs in a few weeks and La Porte County officials have begun discussion of its replacement. America's infrastructure has scored near-failing grades for its deteriorating roads, public transit and storm water systems due to years of inaction from the federal government. (Matt Fritz/The News Dispatch via AP) Photo Gallery

AUSTIN, Texas — America’s infrastructure has scored near-failing grades for its deteriorating roads, public transit and stormwater systems due to years of inaction from the federal government, the American Society of Civil Engineers reports. Its overall grade: a mediocre C-.

In its “Infrastructure Report Card” released Wednesday, the group called for “big and bold” relief, estimating it would cost $5.9 trillion over the next decade to bring roads, bridges and airports to a safe and sustainable level. That’s about $2.6 trillion more than what government and the private sector already spend.

“America’s infrastructure is not functioning as it should, and families are losing thousands of dollars a year in disposable income as a result of cities having to fix potholes, people getting stuck in traffic or due to repairs when a water line breaks or the energy grid goes down,” said Greg DiLoreto, one of the group’s past presidents.

“It’s critical we take action now,” he said, expressing optimism that the federal government is now making it a “top priority.”

During Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, his administration often held “Infrastructure Week” events and touted transportation improvements. But it was not able to push Congress to pass any broad plan to update the nation’s roads and bridges, rails and airports.

The overall C- grade on America’s infrastructure — reflecting a “mediocre” condition with “significant deficiencies” — is a slight improvement from its D+ grade in 2017. The group cited in part state and local government and private-sector efforts, which have turned to new technology to pinpoint water main leaks and prioritize fixes.

But of the 17 categories making up the overall grade, 11 were in the D range that indicated a “significant deterioration” with a “strong risk of failure.” They included public transit, stormwater infrastructure, airports and roads and highways, which make up the biggest chunk of U.S. infrastructure spending at $1.6 trillion, according to the group.

Four areas got Cs: bridges, which dropped from a C+ to a C in 2021, energy, drinking water and solid waste. Just two areas — ports and rail — scored higher, with a B- and B, respectively.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “This report card is a warning and a call to action. A generation of disinvestment is catching up to us, and we must choose whether to allow our global competitors to pull ahead permanently, or to invest in the safety, equity, resilience and economic strength that superior infrastructure can bring to Americans.”

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