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ASCE - hidden opportunities to deal with £1.5 trillion US infrastructure deficit

The American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) has already posted a grim ‘D’ grade and £1.5 trillion ($2.2 trillion) infrastructure deficit for US infrastructure, but says novel ways are available to turn this deficit around.

ASCE president D. Wayne Klotz said: “The problems our nation’s infrastructure faces are significant, and their impact on our personal and economic health is incredibly serious. However, this crisis is solvable.

“Increasing our investment in infrastructure is important, but the solution will involve more than just money. It will take sound technology, wise community planning and involved citizens willing to partner with the government and private sector to make real change. I believe the American people are up to that challenge,” he said.

In January’s Report Card by the ASCE, they painted a bleak picture of US infrastructure. They say:

  • In urban areas, roadway congestion tops 40%.
  • The number of high hazard dams that pose a threat to human life should they fail has increased by more than 3,000 just since 2007.
  • 30% of US children attend school in overcrowded classrooms.

However, a report released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) shows that with ingenuity and the right amount of commitment on the part of the nation’s leaders and the American people, the infrastructure crisis we face is a solvable problem.

ASCE’s ReportCard for America’s Infrastructure Advisory Council chair, Andrew Herrmann said: “Whether it’s sitting in traffic every morning or suffering through a summertime blackout, no matter where you live in this country, failing infrastructure has an impact on your daily life.

“However, it is equally obvious that when national leaders, community leaders and individuals commit to being a part of the solution, addressing the nation’s infrastructure problems becomes far less daunting of a task.”

A state-by-state breakdown is available at www.asce.org/reportcard, with a state-level infrastructure data on a variety of subjects.

For example:

  • In the Roads category solutions include: reforming the federal highway program to emphasise performance management, cost-benefit analysis and accountability, as well as addressing the long-term viability of fuel taxes for transportation funding, and exploring the viability of the most promising options to strengthen this funding.
  • In the Levees category, solutions include: phasing in the mandatory purchase of flood insurance with risk-based premiums for structures in areas protected by levees, and requiring the development and exercise of emergency action plans for levee-protected areas.
  • In the Drinking Water category, the case studies include: Orange County California, where a new groundwater replenishment system is taking treated sewer water and purifying it to meet state and federal drinking water standards.
  • Case studies in the Aviation category include: Newark Liberty International Airport, where, by the end of 2008, a new satellite navigation technology designed to reduce delays will begin testing.
  • In the Schools category the case studies include: Cincinnati, where a $985M commitment has been made to modernizing the 70 schools that make up the state’s third-largest public school district.

Finally, the report presents a detailed breakdown of the investment needs across all 15 categories assessed, including current spending estimates, five-year needed investments, funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the remaining shortfall.

For example, in the Drinking Water category, the five-year investment need equals $255bn, the estimated actual spending over five years equals $140bn and the ARRA funding equals $6.4bn, leaving a five-year investment shortfall of $108.6bn.

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