President Obama didn’t have to read the American Society of Civil Engineers‘ (ASCE) new report card on the nation’s infrastructure to understand why America was given a near failing grade yet again. All he had to to do was ride in the presidential limousine on Washington, DC’s bumpy roads, of which 99 percent are poor or mediocre quality, and then cross one of the capital’s 30 structurally deficient bridges.
There was some good news in ASCE’s latest report card, which comes out every four years — the United States received a D+ grade, which is up from a D in 2009 and represents the first grade improvement in the 15 years the engineering organization has conducted the study. And none of the categories saw a grade decline from 2009. Bridges, drinking water, roads, solid waste, and wastewater all jumped up half a grade point, while rail saw the biggest gains by moving up from C- to C+.
President Obama has pushed for greater infrastructure investments since he first took office. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 committed $105.3 billion to infrastructure investments; his American Jobs Act of 2011 would have invested $50 billion on infrastructure projects and created a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion; and most recently the president pushed for more infrastructure investments in his State of the Union speech and in a speech at the Port of Miami, where he praised a new tunnel project and again called for creating an infrastructure bank, investing in a “fix-it-first” policy, attracting private investment through a “Rebuild America Partnership,” an “America Fast Forward” bonds program, and other proposals.
But these investments simply scratch the surface of what is needed. The ASCE report warns of a $1.6 trillion funding gap by 2020 and says that $3.6 trillion in funding is needed to put the nation’s infrastructure in a state of good repair (a B grade) by 2020.
An administration spokesman said, “this report confirms what we already know: that while smart investments in infrastructure have not only created jobs but started to produce the improvements American workers and businesses will need to compete in a global economy, we have a very long way to go.”
The ASCE report concludes by saying that “we must commit today to make our vision of the future a reality – an American infrastructure system that is the source of our prosperity.”
Here are five infrastructure gains that have been made since President Obama took office.