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U.S. infrastructure gets a D

The nation’s infrastructure received a ‘D’ grade on the latest Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

BY HEATHER MOYER | BALTIMORE | March 9, 2005

The nation’s infrastructure received a ‘D’ grade on the latest Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The infrastructure reviewed and analyzed by a panel of experts selected by the ASCE includes aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, the national power grid, hazardous waste, navigable waterways, parks and recreation, rail, roads, schools, security, solid waste, transit and wastewater.

“These are quality-of-life issues that need to be addressed,” said ASCE Executive Director Pat Natale.

The condition of most infrastructure reviewed had worsened since the last ASCE report card was released in 2001. The group estimates that an investment of $1.6 trillion is needed to address and correct the problems.

For the country’s dams, the grade is the same as it was in 2001 – a ‘D.’ But experts say that doesn’t mean the status quo is acceptable – according to the report, “since 1998, the number of unsafe dams has risen by 33% to more than 3,500. While federally owned dams are in good condition, and there have been modest gains in repair, the number of dams identified as unsafe is increasing at a faster rate than those being repaired. $10.1 billion is needed over the next 12 years to address all critical non-federal dams -- dams which pose a direct risk to human life should they fail.”

The report goes on to state that “there is still an alarming lack of public support and education about the need for proper maintenance and repair of dams.”

Recommendations by the ASCE include establishing a comprehensive and fully funded dam safety program in all 50 states, development of a comprehensive Internet-based information resources system to support the maintenance and improvement of dam safety in the U.S, and a funding program in each state to assist with loans and matching grants. 

The infrastructure report card is endorsed by the American Public Works Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association.


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