Every four years, the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers’) determines the quality of the country’s infrastructure by assigning a letter grade Report Card based upon the physical condition, performance, and necessary investments for the improvement of American infrastructure.
In both 2013 and 2017, the cumulative grade for America’s Infrastructure is a D+. In decades past, our infrastructure has been a source of national pride but currently our roads, bridges, water, energy, and aviation networks are all in need of key investments for upgrading and reinforcing our near-failing system.
The U.S. faces a funding shortfall of at least $2 trillion to bring infrastructure into an “adequate” state of repair. The country places twelfth in the world in terms of quality of overall infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum.
The AFL-CIO has launched a major effort to push for funding to upgrade the nation's aging infrastructure and energy-saving retrofits. One of the key parts of any good infrastructure proposal according to The Resolution on Infrastructure passed at the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention, is that the plan should be “to reach into our communities—urban, suburban and rural—to help more Americans obtain workforce development opportunities that lead to middle-class careers, which our failure to invest has left out of reach for too many.”
The Grading Scale according to the American Society of Civil Engineers:
A: EXCEPTIONAL, FIT FOR THE FUTURE
•The infrastructure in the system or network is generally in excellent condition, typically new or recently rehabilitated, and meets capacity needs for the future.
•A few elements show signs of general deterioration that require attention.
•Facilities meet modern standards for functionality and are resilient to withstand most disasters and severe weather events.
B: GOOD, ADEQUATE FOR NOW
•The infrastructure in the system or network is in good to excellent condition
•Some elements show signs of general deterioration that require attention
•A few elements exhibit significant deficiencies
•Safe and reliable, with minimal capacity issues and minimal risk
C: MEDIOCRE, REQUIRES ATTENTION
•The infrastructure in the system or network is in fair to good condition
•Shows general signs of deterioration that require attention
• Some elements exhibit significant deficiencies in conditions and functionality, with increasing vulnerability to risk
D: POOR, AT RISK
•The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard
•Many elements approaching the end of their service life
• A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration
• Condition and capacity are of serious concern with strong risk of failure
F: FAILING/CRITICAL, UNFIT FOR PURPOSE
•The infrastructure in the system is in unacceptable condition
•Widespread advanced signs of deterioration
• Many of the components of the system exhibit signs of imminent failure
President Trump recently unveiled his long-awaited $1.5 trillion plan to repair and rebuild the nation's crumbling infrastructure. The proposal was not one that offers large sums of federal funding to states for infrastructure needs, but instead is a financing plan that shifts much of the funding burden onto the states and onto local governments.
The President’s plan does not feature $1 trillion in new federal spending, but promises a much smaller $200 billion. To account for the discrepancy, the program is now said to generate fully $1.5 trillion in total new infrastructure spending by leveraging $1.3 trillion in additional state, local, and private sector spending. And it doesn’t say where the proposed $200 billion will come from or what it should be spent on. Such details are being left to Congress.
Supporters of the President’s plan are excited about the potential for private investment to play an increasing role in the advancement of our nation’s infrastructure. While critics warn that this plan will lead to higher state and local taxes, and an increased reliance on user fees, such as tolls, water and sewer fees, transit fares and airline ticket taxes.