Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a “report card” on the state of engineered infrastructure in the United States. The latest national report (as of February 2016) was released March 19, 2013, and gave a grade of D+, a small improvement over the D grade given in 2009. The report covers infrastructure in aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, and wastewater. According to the ASCE’s news release on this year’s report, grades were assigned based on “capacity to meet future demand, condition, funding, future needs, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.” The 2013 national report also includes reports for each state. As of 3/21/13, the Virginia assessment at the Web site for the national report was the same as that compiled in 2009 by the Virginia Section of the ASCE (ASCE-Va.). That report give Virginia an overall grade of D+ (compared to a D in 2009), and the following grades in each category: aviation = C+; bridges = C; dams = D-; drinking water = C-; energy = C-; parks = B-; rail and transit = C-; roads = D-; schools = D+; solid waste = C; stormwater = D=; and wastewater = D+. Key water-related facts highlighted on the Virginia page for 2013 include $6.1 billion in water-supply infrastructure needs and $6.9 billion in wastewater needs “over the next 20 years”; 184 “high-hazard” dams; 1250 “structurally deficient” bridges, and 2421 bridges considered “functionally obsolete” (out of 13,769 total bridges at the time). The full national report for 2013 is available online at http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/home; the Virginia report is available at http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/state-facts/virginia.
Cartoon that accompanied a February 2010 Virginia Water Central newsletter article on the 2009 infrastructure report by the American Society of Civil Engineers-Virginia Section. Illustration by George Wills, Blacksburg, Va. (http://www.etsy.com/people/BlacksburgArt).