School-Style Report Engages Public in Infrastructure

Every four years the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a report card for the general public on the state of America's infrastructure. They assign each infrastructure category letter grades to reflect its condition and performance based on qualitative and quantitative research. It's an interactive and accessible way to generate public awareness and debate about the country's deteriorating infrastructure.

The report card has a dedicated website with a state by state breakdown of infrastructure needs, and is part of the ASCE's “Save America's Infrastructure” campaign. There's a call to action for the public to get involved either by lobbying their state legislator or becoming an infrastructure advocate.

The ASCE published the first report card in 1998, back then the nation's infrastructure achieved a C grade. In 2013, America's infrastructure gets a GPA score of D+, which is defined as Poor: At Risk.


The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of significant concern with strong risk of failure.

Based on the ACSE's estimates the country needs $3.6 trillion of investment in infrastructure by 2020 in order to maintain a state of good repair or to achieve a grade B. The highest capital need is for surface transportation systems (roads, bridges and transit) of $1.7trillion, followed by water/wastewater systems at $126billion.

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