New Mexico road. By Pete Harmer, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
By American Society of Civil Engineers | April 13, 2021
A NM Public Bank could support some of the funding needed to improve our deteriorating infrastructure
On March 3rd, ASCE released the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure through a virtual Solutions Summit to an audience of more than 3,400 attendees from across the country. The Report Card, which covers 17 categories of infrastructure, assigned the U.S. a cumulative grade of ‘C-‘, up from a ‘D+’ in the 2017 report and marking the first time a Report Card has received a grade above the ‘D’ range since its inaugural issue in 1998. While the GPA improved slightly, there are still 11 categories in the ‘D’ range, meaning these systems are in poor condition and at risk. Less than one month later, President Biden unveiled his American Jobs Plan, a comprehensive $2.25 trillion infrastructure package that proposes investment in all 17 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card categories. Included in the American Jobs Plan are ASCE report card recommendations, including suggestions to Congress to modernize highways, bridges and transit systems, address the Amtrak repair backlog, fund the Airport Improvement Program, invest in the multimodal freight system, and repair and replace legacy water and wastewater systems. The Biden plan also references the schools grade (‘D+’) and calls for modernizing education facilities by improving HVAC systems and replacing lead pipes.
Report Card Shows Modest Improvement, but Troubling Signs Remain
Although the ‘C-‘ grade is the highest the country has received since 1998, this still isn’t a report card you’d want to bring home to your parents. Eleven of the 17 categories remain in the D-range, with transit receiving the lowest grade of a ‘D-‘. Five categories improved their scores, while only bridges decreased (‘C+’ to ‘C’). While state and local efforts have helped, the expected funding gap for our nation’s infrastructure systems continues to climb, from an estimated $2.2 trillion over 10 years in 2017 to $2.59 trillion over 10 years in 2021.
Congressional and Industry Leaders Take Part in Solutions Summit
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan kicked off ASCE’s Solutions Summit on March 3rd prior to the Report Card grades being officially revealed. U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg served as the event’s keynote speaker, using the opportunity to emphasize the importance of infrastructure investment for the public health, safety and welfare. The Solutions Summit featured panels on a variety of subjects led by category experts, who were joined by Members of Congress and industry leaders such as Nucor Corporation CEO Leon Topalian, Siemens Smart Infrastructure U.S. President Ruth Gratzke, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox, Los Angeles County Metro CEO Phillip Washington, and more. Watch each panel here.
New Mexico Infrastructure Overview
While the nation’s infrastructure earned a C- in the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, New Mexico faces infrastructure challenges of its own. For example, driving on roads in need of repair in New Mexico costs each driver $767 per year, and 5.5% of bridges are rated structurally deficient. Drinking water needs in New Mexico are an estimated $1.4 billion. 219 dams are considered to be high-hazard potential. The state’s schools have an estimated capital expenditure gap of $407 million. This deteriorating infrastructure impedes New Mexico’s ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace. Success in a 21st-century economy requires serious, sustained leadership on infrastructure investment at all levels of government. Delaying these investments only escalates the cost and risks of an aging infrastructure system, an option that the country, New Mexico, and families can no longer afford.