Roads, Bridges Get Dismal Report Card
March 09, 2001
The American Society of Civil Engineers last week released a report giving the U.S. government a humiliating "D+"
for maintaining the nation's infrastructure.
According to the report, one-third of major roads in the country are in poor or mediocre condition, while nearly a third of all bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete. Road conditions contribute to as many as 13,800 highway fatalities annually, the society says.
Poor conditions persist despite a record $218 billion that has been spent on roads, bridges and transit systems in six years, ASCE President Robert Bein told Scripps Howard News Service.
Though still in sorry shape, roads and bridges improved a bit from previous studies. Roads went from a "D-" to a D+," and bridges rose from a "C-" to a "C."
The report states nearly $11 billion a year for the next 20 years would be needed to fix bridges alone. Overall, Congress needs to allocate $1.3 trillion over the next five years to fix not only roads and bridges, but also airports, dams, drinking water systems and public school buildings, the group says. Bein points to the projected $5.6 trillion federal budget surplus as a solution. "… Our leaders in Congress have the funds needed to restore our ailing infrastructure," he says.
The report also found that nearly 70 percent of highways are congested during peak hours. "Unless we act now, the problem will only get worse because road use is expected to increase by nearly two-thirds in the next 20 years,'' Bein says.
The American Society of Civil Engineers is a lobbying group that works with Congress on behalf of transportation and construction interests.