Infrastructure Report Card — and the Crumbling of America

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America was built on lots of hard work. At the cost of untold blood, sweat and tears. So much so, that we take it for granted. We just assume that all the modern conveniences we enjoy — will just always be there!

Well a team of super serious, civil engineers, is warning our careless assumptions here, could be in for a very rude awaking.

American Society of Civil Engineers, ASCE, has issued their 2009 Infrastructure Report Card, for America, and well, it’s far from encouraging …

First the 2005 ASCE Report Card:

Hardly stellar.

Now the 2009 ASCE Report Card:

Wooah nelly, that’s hardly an improvement, now isn’t it?  (and what happen to the “Security” Category in 2009, anyways?  Guess they gave up on that little nicety.)

What were all those Investment Bankers and their Obstructionist Class friends, doing with all those Billions in Windfall Profits and Tax Cuts, for the last four 8 years, anyways?  Certainly not investing in America, and its future, it’s plain to see (I guess, they figure that’s Democrat’s work, ya know, being the party of the “Working Class” and all!)

Investing in “Infrastructure” is a bit like investing in a College Education.  There is a significant up-front Investment in the short-run, in exchange for more long-term Opportunities, and more Productivity for Society in general. An educated population, is a productive population.

Investing in “Infrastructure” is one of those things, that really does “grow the pie” for everyone. WHO doesn’t benefit from good roads, reliable power, effective schools, clean water, available parks, and an “always on” internet?  Darn near everyone, that’s who.

CNN warns about the consequences of neglecting your Infrastructure, and letting it just crumble around you:


Poor infrastructure fails America, civil engineers report

Story Highlights:

   — Civil engineers’ report card on aging infrastructure gives it overall grade of D

   — “A failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy,” report says

   — Report grades 15 infrastructure entities such as roads, bridges and dams

   — Engineers say investment of $2.2 trillion over five years is needed

Here is there Video summarizing the many “civilized” problems, America is facing as a nation:

CNN Video

The Reporter in that clip summarized the Infrastructure need:

$2.2 Trillion needed is roughly 3X the size of the entire Obama Stimulus Package.

As I recall only about a 1/3 of the total Stimulus Package ($800 Billion) was actually targeting Infrastructure projects. ASCE says $2.2 Trillion is needed.

We can put this off til later right? Eventually someone will fix it all, right?  I was watching the History Channel, recently, about this topic. They did a detailed inventory of system after system, that was in urgent need of repair — BUT due to draconian cuts in such funds, Repairs were NOT being done fast enough, and even Inspections were being cut to ridiculous low levels.

The kicker of that show was, most Infrastructure Systems were originally built with an expected 50 engineering lifespan — AND most of these systems are NOW well over 50 years old!  In other words, we are living on “borrowed time”. Expect more bridge disasters, more power outages, more flash floods, more traffic congestion … WELCOME to the 21st Century — maybe Reagan was right it is indeed “Morning in America” — hardly! … more like midnight, in a 3rd world country.


Decades of underfunding and inattention have jeopardized the ability of our nation’s infrastructure to support our economy and facilitate our way of life. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today released its 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure–assigning a cumulative grade of D to the nation’s infrastructure and noting a five-year investment need of $2.2 trillion from all levels of government and the private sector. Since ASCE’s last assessment in 2005 there has been little change in the condition of the nation’s roads, bridges, drinking water systems and other public works, and the cost of improvement has increased by more than half a trillion dollars.


Sometimes “a stitch in time, DOES save nine” — like 900 Billion dollars, already!

How does each state’s Infrastructure measure up?

Click yours to get state statistics.

Sorry to be such a “Debbie Downer” and all worried about bricks and stuff — But maybe we DO Need to step up and make those short-term Investments, to increase America’s Future Potential, down the road?

You know give all those “structurally displaced” workers, a leg up again? Like they did 60-70 years ago, when they really empowered America.

It’s time to stop taking everything for granted — it’s time to roll up our sleeves, for tomorrow:

Peak Oil Educator — Richard Heinberg

Seriously, Investing in Infrastructure now, could even ignite that 21st Century Age of a “Green Jobs” Economy, that will need to happen sooner or later.

And that Investment will pay off with “dividends” of Energy Independence and improved National Security, too. Not bad.

Just because that College Eduction, didn’t pay off after the first semester, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth pursuing in the first place. Sometimes the best benefits, are the more long lasting ones. You just might even be able to build a thriving, productive Economy, on such long term Investments? … Just ask FDR.


Skip to comment form

    • jamess on July 3, 2009 at 03:57

    for thinking long term.

    cross posted on dkos

    • pico on July 3, 2009 at 07:59

    of our system of democracy: by having elected officials who serve relatively short terms of office, there’s no incentive for anyone to put their popularity at stake by taking the kind of financial risk necessary for big, long term projects.  That’s somewhat of an oversimplification, but I don’t think it’s too far from the mark.

    It’s exacerbated by the fact that ‘balancing the budget’ has become such a major concern ever since the Republican revolution in the early 90s.  I’m all for fiscal responsibility, but not at the expense of necessary investment.  Infrastructure is expensive, and it really might take disintegration of more roads and bridges and levees before people are willing to pony up.  

    Heh, then again New Orleans has had terrible streets and crumbling bridges (not to mention the levee issue) for as long as I was a sentient being, so there’s no guarantee of that, either.

  1. We have to change the rules that corporations play by. To treat a corporation as if it were an individual with rights BUT NO RESPONSIBILITY is batshit insane, and it is this insanity that has led to the abuses, fraud, waste and neglect that is the subject of your badly needed essay.

    Greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  2. a few months ago (PBS, I think).

    Since then, I plan routes to avoid as many extension bridges as possible.

    I have to cross one bridge between NJ/PA about once a week – and pray every time I go across.

    Definitely this is an opportunity for investment with a strong ROI – and will put people back to work. It’s such a no-brainer, I can’t explain the lack of action.

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