Wednesday, June 5, 2013

American Society of Civil Engineers Give Us a D+!

If a "D+" sounds bad last year we had a "D"! The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) yearly produces a "report card" on the maintenance and modernization of our infrastructural.
There criterion is a little different then you would normally expect in regard to infrastructure. They have 16 categories and we credit the raise the investment in 6 categories bridges, drinking water, railways, roads, solid wastes and waste water. Keep in mind that this is a national grade and does not include one area. We have not had a raise in grading since 1998 so this is a major step on the national level. Overall this group thinks we need to invest 3.6 trillion into our infrastructure by 2020 to keep things moving.

Some people question the validity of the report that they produced because they are indeed engineers and need to sell things. Other sources, like the World Economic Forum, agree that America has been doing a good deal of under-investing in our infrastructure as time has moved on. Either way the reality is that allot of our infrastructure is decaying.

"In the past four years, the federal government has also made a one-off investment of more than $100 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. A total of $48 billion was spent on transport; this modernized 350,000 miles of road, 20,000 bridges and 6,000 miles of railways.[1]". Obama still wants more investment. Much of the flow on money to these projects has stopped after the one time payments of $100 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment act in 2009. Much of these funds went to new projects and did not make their way to the differed maintenance that has stacked up over time(see my local Op-Ed).

What is interesting to me in that there are people out there keeping tabs on the amount of maintenance that needs to be done. Obama has called for an additional $40 billion this April to help offset the deferred maintenance that has been stacking up. He also called for an additional "$10 billion to create and capitalize a long-called-for National Infrastructure Bank, which would combine public and private capital to support the most deserving projects. [1]." It seemed that this would be a fund that would be used to combine with private money to push infrastructure projects along. This is the third time such a program was brought up (Feb 2008, Sept 2010) but the price tag has come down $50 billion, possible for political reasons. 

These funding avenues are changing though, we can see examples of this with our own Columbia River Crossing (CRC). To provide Oregon's piece of the funds Bonds are issued to raise finances. Many others have hope in long term Public Private Partnerships. Whatever the mechanism for funding we need to make our way to a better grade or the honor roll will be out of our reach.    

[1] "D (for Dilapidated) plus." The Economist. N.p., 6 Apr. 2013. Web. <>.

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