The engineers have spoken, and the results don’t look good. In a recent report card of the nation’s infrastructure, the U.S. has received a D+.
This almost failing grade was given by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in March as a part of the assessment the group releases every four years.
While shocking, this grade is barely any different from that of 2013. This means that the infrastructure nationwide has been deemed “poor” and “at risk” for over four years, and despite promises from politicians of all stripes, little has been done about it.
One of the hot topics of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign was to get the country more focused on investing in infrastructure. He has recently called on Congress to act upon a $1 trillion dollar proposal that will use a mix of private and federal funds to update infrastructure over the next decade. Trump has publicly stated that he hopes this bill will be prioritized by Congress and wishes to start projects within just 90 days of receiving funding approval.
Even though $1 trillion seems like a massive sum, the ASCE predicts that the country needs much more than that to fix outdated bridges, highways, and airports. In fact, the ASCE estimates that around $4.59 trillion is needed just to get infrastructure stabilized and in a state of good repair.
According to Greg DiLoreto, chair of the ASCE, the nation’s inaction to do anything about infrastructure is costing Americans $3,400 annually in lost disposable income, as anyone who’s ever gotten a flat tire from a pothole can attest.
The report rated the U.S. on 16 different categories. Railways got the highest mark at a B, and public transit was rated the lowest at a D-. Bridges, solid waste, and ports earned C grades, while aviation, dams, roads, and drinking water sanitation were all given a D.
There was slightly good news though — inland waterways and locks, levees, ports, hazardous waste management, and schools all improved their scores from 2013.
To get these ratings, the engineers looked at data and reports from across the nation and consulted with industry experts to find an appropriate letter grade. The report also includes whether that piece of infrastructure’s capacity meets both current and future demands, along with if there is enough funding for the projects at hand.
However, there is another problem plaguing our infrastructure: the status of its workers.
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries for workers, and according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction workers take the brunt of worker compensation nationwide. One out of every five deaths in the workplace is due to a construction-related accident.
To put this statistic in perspective, there are 93 workplace fatalities a week, and more than 13 each and every day.
The leading causes of workplace fatalities are falls, followed by being struck by an object, electrocution, and then being caught between equipment or objects. And while OSHA utilizes a three-step process of plan, provide, and train to prevent such risks, these practices are not always followed.
In fact, the top 5 most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in 2016 include:
1.Fall protection in construction.
5. Control of hazardous energy.
If you believe the ASCE and politicians running for election, then American infrastructure is crumbling. From the workers who fabricate the structures to the need for federal funding for upkeep and safety, it will take a huge overall of resources to come up with a long-term solution.
But the ASCE is hopeful that President Trump will follow through on his promise for infrastructure spending. If nothing else, President Trump has kept infrastructure in the national conversation.
“While our nation’s infrastructure problems are significant, they are solvable,” said ASCE President Norma Jean Mattei. “We need our elected leaders — those who pledged to rebuild our infrastructure while on the campaign trail — to follow through on those promises with investment and innovative solutions that will ensure our infrastructure is built for the future.”