Periodically the American Society of Civil Engineers releases its annual report card for the United States Infrastructure. This includes a report on the condition of roads, bridges, drinking water and wastewater facilities, aviation and transit systems to name of view of the major categories.
The first report card came out in 1988 and was delivered to the President of the United States and Congress. In that initial report, the overall grade of all infrastructure was a dismal “D”. ASCE probably stopped at “D” rather than going to what was more than likely deserving of a big fat “F”. You’d think that would have raised some concern in DC and in all the states across the US, but subsequent report cards have proven the information was mostly ignored.
On August 1, 2007, everyone sat up and listened when the I-35 Mississippi River bridge collapsed killing 13 people. Again, you think that would have woken people up. Unfortunately, as we see all too often, we have a very very short memory.
In 2009, ASCE completed its most recent report card. Things are not getting better. Another “D”. The prior report of 2005 showed much of the same findings and provided a host of recommended measures to be taken to make the much needed improvements to every category analyzed. As ASCE points out in the 2009 report, even with the federal Stimulus funding, the needs are tremendous and funding continues to be the major problem.
In a recent 2011 report from a DC based group called Transportation for American, PA received, again, bad news for the condition of its bridges. PA still sits at the top of all states with the highest number of structurally deficient bridges. This is something that many people in PA don’t realize, but should. In another report completed in May 2010 by local engineers in ASCE chapter across Pennsylvania, the report on all infrastructure was again very scary, “D”, “D-“, etc. The information is out, just google it on your computer. Why is it being mostly ignored?
Usually when your child comes home with a poor report card, the parents will sit down and address what is going wrong and work towards making improvements for the next report card. However, in this case it looks like the parents (State and Federal politicians) are the ones falling down on the job.
The inability to come up with viable funding for much needed projects not only in PA but all across the United Statescan be seen in the unemployment numbers in the construction and engineering industry. Very frustrating considering the grades on the report cards for over a decade keep coming and are getting worse each time. The outlook is not good, as many in the industry don’t see help coming for years.