On Wednesday, March 3rd, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The Report Card, released every four years, aims to captures the state of the nation’s infrastructure alongside a set of solutions for transformative action. ASCE gave US infrastructure a grade of C-, an improvement from the D+ it received in 2017 and the highest grade it has received in 20 years. Grading is based on 17 infrastructure categories, in which grades ranged from the highest “B” grade in the Rail category to the lowest grade of a “D-” in the Transit category.
Despite earning a higher grade, ASCE emphasized that 11 categories still were in the D range and that the infrastructure deficit remains significant. The Report Card established a $2.6 trillion 10-year investment gap and that a 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent of U.S. GDP investment is needed by 2025 to achieve an infrastructure system fit for the future.
Three key findings were derived from the Report Card:
- Asset Management helps prioritize limited funding – Sectors like transit and wastewater have staggering maintenance deficits, but developing a clear picture of where the available funding is most needed improves overall system performance and public safety.
- State and local governments have made progress. Increased federal investment or reform has also positively impacted certain categories – Several improvements, such as raising federal and state funding, the passing of local infrastructure ballot initiatives, and the rise of the chief resilience officer in major cities, have helped progress that state of infrastructure in the US.
- There are still infrastructure sectors where data is scarce or unreliable – communities still lack robust asset inventories with updated condition information. ASCE stresses the importance of reliable data to better target infrastructure investments and allocate funding.