March 9, 2017

What civil engineers think aobut our public works

Washington  Post - The Trump administration promises to pump $1 trillion into improving the country’s crumbling infrastructure, but a benchmark report says it will take almost $4.6 trillion over the next eight years to bring all those systems up to an acceptable standard.

Since 2001, the cost of repairing those systems has mushroomed from $1.3 trillion to the current figure, more than three times higher, according to an assessment released Thursday by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The report comes out every four years.

It gave the U.S. infrastructure an overall grade of D+, the same grade it received in 2013, “suggesting only incremental progress was made over the last four years.”

The commentary provided with each grade was revealing:

- Airports (D): Congestion at airports is growing, with 24 of the big airports expected to achieve “Thanksgiving-peak-traffic-volume” at least one day each week.

- Bridges (C+): Four in 10 of the country’s 614,387 bridges are more than 50 years old and near the end of their designed life span. Nearly 59,000 are structurally deficient.

[Nearly 59,000 bridges in U.S. are structurally deficient]

- Dams (D): An estimated 2,170 of the country’s 90,580 dams are considered as “high-hazard potential” because of failed upkeep.

- Drinking water (D): There are 240,000 water main breaks each year, wasting two trillion gallons of water.

- Electricity (D+): Most electrical transmission lines were built in the 1950s and 1960s with a 50-year life expectancy, and they are running at maximum capacity everywhere but Alaska and Hawaii.

- Ports (C+): Mega-ships now arriving from the Far East and able to transit the newly-expanded Panama Canal can call on very few of the 926 U.S. ports unless channels are dredged to accommodate their deeper drafts.

- Railroads (B): The private freight railroads which own most of U.S. rail track invested $27.1 billion to upgrade systems in 2015 and continue that investment.

- Roads (D): Traffic backups cost $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014, and about 20 percent of highway pavement is in poor condition.

- Transit systems (D-): Though they carried 10.5 billion trips in 2015, chronic underfunding and aging infrastructure have created a $90 billion repair bill.

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