ASCE releases 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today released its 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, looking at the state of the country’s infrastructure across 17 categories. The Report Card is compiled every four years by America’s civil engineers to provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure categories, using a simple A to F school report card format to assign grades and make recommendations on how to raise them.
Key findings in the 2021 report show that for the first time in 20 years, the infrastructure GPA is out of the D range, showing a C-, up from a D+ in 2017. According to the report, the 2021 grades range from a B in rail to a D- in transit. Five category grades—aviation, drinking water, energy, inland waterways and ports—went up, while just one category—bridges—went down. Overall, 11 category grades were stuck in the D range, a clear signal that the country’s infrastructure is in need of improvement.
The report shows three trends worth noting:
- Maintenance backlogs continue to be an issue, but asset management helps prioritize limited funding. Sectors like transit and wastewater have large maintenance deficits but developing a clear picture of where available funding is most needed improves overall system performance and public safety. For example, the drinking water sector has embraced asset management and new technology to pinpoint leaks and target repairs.
- State and local governments have made progress. Increased federal investment or reform has also positively impacted certain categories. Since 2010, 37 states have raised their gas tax to fund critical transportation investments. Ninety-eight percent of local infrastructure ballot initiatives passed in November 2020. At least 25 major cities and states now have chief resilience officers. These improvements were made by elected officials from both sides of the aisle and with strong voter support. Meanwhile, categories like ports, drinking water and inland waterways have been the beneficiaries of increased federal funding.
- There are still infrastructure sectors where data is scarce or unreliable. Sectors like school facilities, levees and stormwater still suffer from a lack of robust condition information or inventory of assets. To target investments and allocate funding, routine, reliable data should be the standard.
The ASCE Committee on America’s Infrastructure, made up of 31 civil engineers from across the country with decades of expertise in all categories, volunteers their time to work with ASCE Infrastructure Initiatives staff to prepare the Report Card. The full report is available through the ASCE.