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America’s Infrastructure Receives D+ Grade

America’s infrastructure will need an estimated $3.6 trillion in total investment by 2020, leaving a funding shortfall of $1.6 trillion, according to an assessment by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which is updated every four years, gave the performance and condition of the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+, up from a D in 2009. The study evaluated 16 sectors that include solid waste, the power grid, drinking water, wastewater, roads and bridges.

None of the 16 categories received a lower grade than in 2009, according to the report. However, near-failing grades were given to a number of sectors, including levees and inland waterways.

The nation’s energy grade remained a D+. The ASCE warned in the report the availability of energy will become a greater challenge after 2020. Some 17,000 miles of additional high-voltage transmissions lines as well as oil and gas pipelines are planned for the next five years. However, permitting and siting issues threaten their completion, the ASCE said.

Dams maintained a D grade, in part because of an increase in the nation’s aging and high-hazard dams. Many of these were built as low-hazard dams to protect agricultural land. However, population shifts and development have increased the number of high-hazard dams to nearly 12,000 in 2012, the report said. The number of deficient dams is more than 4,000, the ASCE said.

An analysis conducted by the US Department of Energy last year found existing dams across the country could provide more than 12 GW of additional electric generating capacity, the equivalent of roughly 15 percent of the nation’s hydropower capacity.

Some sectors saw their grades stabilize or improve. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, bridges and rail each had small improvements in their grades since the last assessment.

Cities and states renewed efforts to address deficient roads, bridges, drinking and wastewater systems, and private investment for efficiency and connectivity improved the nation’s railways, ports and energy grid. Several infrastructure categories benefited from short-term boosts in federal funding, the ASCE said.

 

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