March 15, 2017
Transport Topics --- The nation’s transportation network was given a near-failing grade by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Their D+ grade in a quadrennial report card matched the grade given out in 2013. The 2017 report card examined 16 categories. Bridges were graded C+, ports a C+, and roads a D.
Rail garnered the top grade: B. Transit received the lowest grade: D-.
ASCE’s leadership urged federal lawmakers to approve a 25-cent increase in the federal fuel tax as a way to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Transportation agencies around the country rely on the fund to help pay for infrastructure projects. Congress has not raised the fuel tax since 1993.
The group also called on Congress to continue to fund U.S. Department of Transportation’s infrastructure grants for states.
“While some investment progress has been made, it is not enough to prepare our nation for a 21st century economy on a 20th century infrastructure with 20th century dollars,” said Greg DiLoreto, ASCE’s Committee on America’s Infrastructure chairman, at the report card’s unveiling.
“We think it’s an important issue for the country and the backbone for our economy, so we’d like to see it certainly prioritized and elevated in priority,” added ASCE executive director Tom Smith.
Reacting to the report card, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials executive director Bud Wright said it showed the impact underinvesting has on critical infrastructure systems.
American Trucking Associations spokesman Sean McNally added the report card is “another sign of how desperately our country needs to move forward on a plan to rebuild and improve our infrastructure.”
“As a nation of communities, we must commit to investing in critical infrastructure that is 40, 50, and 60 years old – and some of it much older than that. We must have an honest conversation about the need to make bigger and smarter investments than we have in the recent past,” added Patrick Jones, CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.
The Trump administration intends to present to Congress a fiscal 2018 budget request that would outline funding for transportation programs. Trump told Congress to pass a $1 trillion infrastructure funding bill. Republicans in control of Congress have yet to offer a timeline for when they would consider an infrastructure funding package.