(CBS NEWS) -- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) announced Tuesday that the U.S. earned a grade of D+ in its 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure.
latest report card, which is issued every four years, is actually a
slight improvement on the "D" grade issued in 2009. But it found that
the nation had significant work to do to shore up its infrastructure.
ASCE estimates that the U.S. needs to spend $3.6 trillion on
infrastructure by 2020 -- $1.6 trillion more than current funding levels
The highest grade within the report was a B- for
solid waste systems. Americans recycled 34 percent of their 250 million
tons of trash in 2010, more than double the rate of 14.5 percent in
The lowest grade, a D-, went to levees and inland
waterways. "The U.S. does not have a levee safety program," according to
ASCE. "Public safety remains at risk as roughly $100 billion is needed
to repair the nation's estimated 100,000 miles of levees that
increasingly are protecting developed communities." The report said that
many portions of inland waterways have not been updated since the 1950s
despite the fact that inland waterways and rivers carry the equivalent
of 51 million truck trips per year.
Many areas received D
grades. They include roads, due to a 42 percent congestion rate on
highways; dams, which have an average age of 52 years old; drinking
water, because "frequent water main breaks, pipes and mains that are
frequently more than 100 years old are reaching the end of their life
cycle and require significant investment"; hazardous waste systems,
because Superfund and brownfield site cleanups face a "severe" budgetary
shortfall; transit, which faces challenges tied to increasing ridership
and declining funding; schools, which the report says need $270 billion
or more in funding to modernize public school buildings; and aviation,
with the FAA estimating that airport congestion and delays cost nearly
$22 billion in 2012.
The relative good news: The grade
for bridges improved to a C+ with the number of structurally deficient
bridges on the decline; still, the report says, one in nine remain
structurally deficient. Rail also improved to a C+, with Amtrak
recording its highest ridership level ever in 2012 thanks in part to
federal investment in tracks, bridges and tunnels.
grade for public parks and recreation remained unchanged at C-, with the
report finding that localities facing an $18.5 billion budget shortfall
and the National Park Service seeing an $11 billion maintenance
backlog. The grade for energy also held steady, at D+, with an aging
electrical grid and distribution system facing coming population
"We must commit today to investing in modern,
efficient infrastructure systems to position the U.S. for economic
prosperity," said ASCE President Gregory E. DiLoreto, P.E.
"Infrastructure can either be the engine for long-term economic growth
and employment, or, it can jeopardize our nation's standing if poor
roads, deficient bridges, and failing waterways continue to hurt our