It was no surprise earlier this year when the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) announced the grades for its annual report card on U.S. infrastructure and America received a D+.
Most of the states failed to get individual grades higher than C- in ASCE’s evaluation—on average, the society found that at least 40 percent of the roads in each state are in poor or mediocre condition and a similar percentage of bridges are crumbling. ASCE estimates the U.S. needs to invest close to $4 trillion in infrastructure by 2020 to remain competitive with other industrial powers.
The gloomy assessment from ASCE prompted Business Facilities to take a closer, in-depth approach to its annual state ranking for Best Infrastructure.
“As anyone who struggled with algebra in junior high knows, a D+ means you didn’t flunk because the teacher took pity on you,” said Editor in Chief Jack Rogers.
BF, a national publication focused on site selection and economic development, zeroed in on key data points, including the percentage of bridges in each state that are structurally deficient; the percentage of roads in poor/mediocre condition; the number of sites on the hazardous waste priority cleanup list; the number of dams that are covered by emergency action plans; estimated 20-year drinking water infrastructure needs; and estimated 20-year wastewater infrastructure needs.
The magazine also prorated the results to reflect the size of the overall infrastructure in each state (in other words, a state that only has 3,000 bridges to take care of has a much easier task than a state like Texas with 52,000 spans).
“We weren’t sure if any state deserved to be ranked when we started the process, but we were relieved to discover that several are ahead of the curve or at least keeping their head above water, literally and figuratively,” Rogers said.
He added, “It would have been easier to publish a Worst Infrastructure ranking—which probably would have been a 20-way tie—but thankfully we didn’t have to go there.”
The results are in and Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia took the top five slots in BF‘s Best Infrastructure evaluation, respectively.
“When you consider the amount of infrastructure that needs to be maintained in states the size of Texas and Florida, this is truly impressive,” Rogers said.
In a recent BF Blog post, the magazine noted that a Mars rover launched nearly a decade ago is still exploring the surface of the Red Planet even though it was designed to last just a few months.
“It’s really mind-boggling when you realize the same country that can send a machine to Mars lets millions of its citizens drive over crumbling bridges every day,” Rogers said.
The complete results of Business Facilities’ 9th Annual Rankings Report will be posted on the BF website on August 5. The results also will be featured in the cover story of BF‘s July/August issue.