On Jan. 28, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. Four years after its last report card, the group has again evaluated the condition of roads, bridges, drinking water systems, and other public works in the United States. Our country's overall grade? A less than impressive D. The group estimates the cost of necessary upgrades to be $2.2 trillion.
The report card, developed by an advisory council of 28 civil engineers, looks at 15 infrastructure categories, including, for the first time, levees. That category received the lowest grade, a D?. "The reliability of many [of the nation's] levees is unknown, and many are more than 50 years old. ... With an increase in development behind these levees, the risk to public health and safety from failure has increased," said an ASCE press release accompanying the report card. Drinking water, inland waterways, roads, and wastewater also received D? grades.
Many categories—such as bridges (C), rails (C?), dams (D), and schools (D)—have shown little change since 2005. The only upward movement was that of energy, from D to D+, which the ASCE attributes to grid reinforcement since 2005 and expected investment in generation, transmission, and distribution over the next two decades.
A more detailed report on the state of U.S. infrastructure will be released by the ASCE on March 25. Until then, read the 2009 Report Card at asce.org/reportcard/2009.