Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bumps in the Road

Nation’s infrastructure gets a D+ from the country’s civil engineers.

Before we can get our infrastructure ready to handle the needs of the 21st century, we need to be sure it can handle the 20th. You can see the deficiencies in our road system anytime you get behind the wheel of your car, and all of the raw materials, components and finished products you buy and sell have to move on those same roads. A new report details how much improvement is needed.

The country’s infrastructure again received a near-failing grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers this month, highlighting a lack of improvement four years after the group’s last assessment. The overall grade for 2017 is D+ — just as it was in 2013, reported Supply Chain 24/7. Thousands of outdated bridges, roadways and tunnels are ill-equipped to manage current traffic volumes, and a crumbling transit system is resulting in massive congestion. Slowdowns along freight corridors impede economic growth, and $4.5 trillion is needed to achieve significant improvements in the transportation grid, ASCE concluded. 

Further, the group’s leadership urged lawmakers to approve a 25-cent increase in the federal fuel tax, indexed to inflation, to ensure the solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund, which transportation agencies around the country rely on the fund to help pay for infrastructure projects. Congress has not raised the fuel tax — 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel and 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline — since 1993. The group also called on Congress to continue to fund U.S. Department of Transportation’s infrastructure grants for states. 

The 2017 report card examined 16 categories, and not much has improved since 2013’s report. This year, bridges were graded C+, improving from a D in 2013. “While the number of bridges that are in such poor condition as to be considered structurally deficient is decreasing, the average age of America’s bridges keeps going up and many of the nation’s bridges are approaching the end of their design life,” according to a summary of the report. Rail, one of the trucking’s biggest challengers, garnered this year’s top grade of B, an improvement from C+ in 2013. Ports received a C+ and roads a D. Four years prior, they were graded C+, and C, respectively. Mass transit received the lowest grade in 2017 from ASCE with a D-.

In Washington, consensus exists that infrastructure urgently needs attention, but coming up with the necessary funds has proven the stumbling block. Both congressional Democrats and the Trump administration have called for roughly $1 trillion in spending, but details are scarce, and other legislative priorities make it unlikely the issue will be tackled before this autumn at the soonest.  In the meantime, when you go over a bump in the road, thank your representatives.

Kirk Shearer
800-989-0054 x103

No comments: