U.S. Engineers Grade Infrastructure ‘C-’ Ahead of Biden Plan

U.S. infrastructure including roads, bridges and sewers received a mediocre grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, an assessment that will help buttress President Joe Biden’s coming plan for a major infrastructure-spending package.

Across the country, crucial systems from public transit to wastewater treatment and the energy grid remain badly underfunded despite modest improvements over the past four years, according to ASCE. The group’s overall grade rose to “C-” from a “D+” in 2017, the last time it issued its quadrennial report card on infrastructure.

The report estimated that by 2039, continuing to invest at current rates could cost $10 trillion in GDP, more than 3 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in exports. Additional funding is needed for an estimated $2.6 trillion in projects through 2029.

“The good news is that closing America’s infrastructure gap is possible with big, bold action from Congress, continued financial support from states and localities, and smart investments and management by infrastructure owners,” it said.

The findings will likely be promoted by the Biden administration, which is planning a multi-trillion dollar package with infrastructure at its core. The president is expected to reveal details of the plan soon after Congress passes his $1.9 trillion Covid-relief package, which is expected by mid-March.

The overall size of the infrastructure proposal is unknown, but could easily exceed $2 trillion. Progressives in the Democratic Party are also hoping to tack on measures to address climate change, an expansion of Obamacare and a public-sector jobs program.

Several Republicans have said they support new spending on infrastructure, but the size of the proposal, disagreements over how it should be funded and add-on provisions are expected to threaten its passage.

The ASCE report examined current infrastructure conditions and needs, providing an assessment in 17 different categories, with grading on an A-to-F scale.

Rail infrastructure received the highest grade in the report, a “B,” while public transit got the lowest mark, a “D-.” Eleven categories received a “D+” or worse.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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