The American Society of Civil Engineers releases a report every four years that evaluates U.S. infrastructure, and their last report in 2009 gave the nation a D grade. The latest report, released Tuesday, marks the first time in 15 years the country's grade has improved — to a D+.
Engineers explained the gains by noting the private financing of public projects and increased action from state and local government to initiate their own projects, rather than wait for federal money. Private investment was especially responsible for the improvements to the nation’s rails, according to the report. Rail evaluation went from a C- in 2009 to a C+ this year.
The group also noted the effects of investments bundled in President Obama’s economic stimulus package, which promoted some “shovel-ready” projects like road and bridge repair. “When investments are made and projects move forward, the grades rise,” the report stated.
Gregory E. DiLoreto, the group’s president, said, “a D+ is simply unacceptable for anyone serious about strengthening our nation’s economy." The engineering group estimates that the nation needs investment of about $3.6 trillion by 2020, but that current spending levels will leave a shortfall of $1.6 trillion.
The New York Times reports that the new D+ grade was met with approval by the Obama administration, which, in addition to passing the short-term stimulus investment, has called for greater infrastructure investment from both government and private sources.
“The improvement is modest, and frankly, the investment is modest," said Edward Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor and current co-chairman of Building America's Future Educational Fund, a group that advocates for national infrastructure improvement. “Not only do we need more investment, we need to do it right,” he said.