Engineers Say Tax Increase Needed To Save Failing U.S. Infrastructure

The nation's roads, bridges, airports, water and transit systems are in pretty bad shape, according to the civil engineers who plan and design such infrastructure.

The new report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the infrastructure of the United States a D-plus.

That nearly failing grade should boost President Trump's efforts to get a plan to invest up to $1 trillion in rebuilding everything from highways and bridges to tunnels and dams, even though the engineers' group is recommending something the president and his party are unlikely to support: a huge increase in the gasoline tax.

It's not as though many of our bridges are about to collapse or our cars likely to be swallowed up by potholes, but according to ASCE, a significant number of the critical structures and systems that we rely on to get us to and from work, that provide us with clean drinking water, and that protect us from floods are in pretty bad shape.

Take the nation's roads, for example, which Greg DiLoreto, a former president of ASCE, says get the same disappointing grade as four years ago: a D.

"More than 2 out of every 5 miles of America's urban interstates are congested, and traffic delays cost this country $160 billion in wasted fuel and time," says DiLoreto.

Because roads and highways are out of date and unable to handle today's demand, DiLoreto says, "on average, Americans waste 43 hours a year stuck in traffic. Or in other words, one in your two weeks' vacation, gone."

He says the nation's aging airports are increasingly congested, too.

"It is expected that by 2020, 24 of our 30 major airports will experience Thanksgiving Day peak traffic at least once a week," DiLoreto says.

In addition, America's water systems are leaking trillions of gallons of water, more than 2,000 dams are at high risk of failure, and there are 59,000 structurally deficient bridges around the country.

"Structurally deficient doesn't mean they are unsafe," DiLoreto says. "But it does mean they require more repair and more frequent inspections."

Mass transit earns the worst grade of all, a D-minus.

"The nation's transit systems are chronically underfunded, resulting in aging infrastructure and a $90 billion maintenance backlog," DiLoreto says.

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Chris Alexakis