As many of you know, I made a presentation in the CC Live booth at the World of Concrete earlier this year, and my thesis was defining the extent of deferred infrastructure investment that exists in America, well beyond streets, roads, and bridges.
I suggested that even though the much-touted $1 trillion investment the Trump Administration is proposing seems like a big commitment, it falls well short of the mark when the vast needs of all other not-so-obvious infrastructure is taken into consideration. Specifically, the other huge areas that require attention and much-needed improvement include power plants, and the electric grid that connects them; the vast network of oil and gas pipelines; our railway system; our airports; and the ports and inland waterways across the country. I concluded that trillions more would be needed to address all these neglected facets of our nation’s infrastructure.
It turns out others agree, as evidenced by the well-publicized study released by the American Society of Civil Engineers at the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s Annual Convention a couple of weeks ago. The punchline? Our infrastructure, as evidenced by their very thorough study, rates a D+, and the cost to fix it is a mind-boggling $4.59 trillion, and it needs to be spent by 2025.
Wow. So here are some highlights from the report, which can make you gasp when you read it:
- 56,000 of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient
- The average age of our bridges is 43 years
- 188 million trips are taken on structurally deficient bridges every year
- 2 out of 5 miles on the nation’s interstates are congested, resulting in 6.9 billion hours of traffic delays, or 42 hours per driver annually
- 21% of the nation’s highways are in poor condition, costing motorists $21 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs
These are just a few of the highlights, but even more disturbing is the observation that investment in surface transportation is not keeping up with the needs, so we are falling behind further and further every year. The study reports that total estimated funding is $941 billion, but the total need is $2.042 trillion, resulting in a $1.1 trillion investment gap.
The report warns that if the country's aging roads, railways and bridges are left to decay even further, that could rise to $14 trillion by 2040. So while the Trump infrastructure initiative sounds impressive at $1 trillion, America’s civil engineers express serious concern that it falls well short of our needs.
Originally featured in The Concrete Producer magazine.