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JULIANNE MALVEAUX

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling.  Nearly 10 percent of our bridges are deficient or decrepit, a quarter of our schools are in fair or poor condition. More than half of all schools need major repairs before they can be classified as good, but 31 states spend less on school construction now than they did in 2008.  Forty percent of our urban highways are congested, and traffic fatalities are up. Fewer than half of us could get to a grocery store using public transportation.

The American Society of Civil Engineers produces a report card on our nation’s infrastructure, grading sixteen categories, including roads, bridges, public transportation, levees, aviation, hazardous waste, dams, ports, energy, and more.  The 2017 report gives our infrastructure a D+, noting that our infrastructure has earned a “persistent D” since 1998.

Our railways earn the highest grade, B, despite aging infrastructure and insufficient investment in passenger railways. Ports, which receive most of our overseas trade, bridges (despite major failures, and funding challenges), and solid waste all rise from the D swamp with C+ grades. But the other 12 categories; schools, parks, drinking water, aviation, wastewater, dams, energy, inland waterways, hazardous waste, roads, transit, and levees, earn a D or a D+.

The ACES report card https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org) is likely to make you holler and throw up your hands. You can buy a family of four a hearty five-star dinner if you got a dollar for every time the words “aging,” “hazard,” “shortfall”, “underfunded,” “investment gap,” “backlog,” or “deferred” are mentioned.

Infrastructure is important in our nation’s economic development. For example, says ACES, every dollar spent on highway improvement returns $5.20 in decreased delays, vehicle maintenance, and fuel construction, and increased safety.  Poor maintenance of our ports costs us international trade, and the condition of our dams, levees and waterways probably compounded the damage from hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

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