Ohio infrastructure bests national grade in multiple categories

Engineers give C- average nationally and in Ohio

Ohio’s infrastructure got a better grade than the national score in nine of 16 categories from American Society of Civil Engineers.

The group released its national report card last week, awarding an average C- grade to the nation’s infrastructure, which matches Ohio’s average grade announced last month by the group’s Ohio council.

The national report card grades 17 categories. Ohio’s report card includes all except aviation.

The other categories are bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, parks, ports, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, storm water, transit and wastewater infrastructure.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

None received a failing grade nationally or in Ohio. The worst grade nationally went to transit, which received a D-. In Ohio the lowest grade was a D, which went to transit, roads and levees.

Ohio did worse than the national grade in two categories — drinking water infrastructure, which received a D+, and ports, which got a C. The state’s grades matched the national one in five categories.

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Grades are based on multiple factors, including condition, future need, capacity, safety and resilience.

Roads and infrastructure are critical to business investment, said Chris Kershner, president and chief executive of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“If you don’t have an efficient infrastructure system, it can cripple business growth and reduce the economic attractiveness of an area,” he said.

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Infrastructure investment helped improve grades nationally in aviation, drinking water, energy, inland waterways and ports since the 2017 report card. But the engineers’ group estimates that $2.59 trillion in additional funding is needed to make needed improvements across the U.S. by 2029.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

The average C- grade means that the nation’s overall infrastructure is in “mediocre condition, has deficiencies and needs attention,” according to the group.

Eleven of the 17 categories rated nationally were graded in the D-range, which means they are in poor and at risk condition, and none got better than a B, meaning good condition.

“This not a report card anyone would be proud to take home,” ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith said. “We have not made significant enough investments to maintain infrastructure that in some cases was built more than 50 years ago.”

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

“As this study shows, we risk significant economic losses, higher costs to consumers, businesses and manufacturers — and our quality of life — if we don’t act urgently. When we fail to invest in infrastructure, we pay the price,” he said.

The group estimates that failure to repair and expand infrastructure could cost the U.S. economy $10 trillion in lost growth by 2039 and exports could decline by $2.4 trillion.

2021 Infrastructure Report Card  
TypeNational gradeOhio grade
Drinking waterC-D+
Hazardous wasteD+D+
Inland waterwaysD+D+
Solid WasteC+B-
Storm waterDD+
Overall AverageC-C-
*Ohio report card did not include aviation  
Source: American Society of Civil Engineers 

“Poor roads and airports mean travel times increase. An aging electric grid and inadequate water distribution make utilities unreliable,” the report said. “Problems like these translate into higher costs for businesses to manufacture and distribute goods and provide services.”

The engineering group, which releases the report cards every four years, hopes to have a significant impact on debate in Congress over improved funding for infrastructure.

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“America’s infrastructure bill is overdue, and we have been ignoring it for years. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbates the funding challenge because state and local governments have had to prioritize public health over everything else for the past year,” said Jean-Louis Briaud, ASCE president, in a news release.

“If we take action now, we can generate job growth and build infrastructure that is more reliable, more secure and more resilient while increasing the quality of life for everyone,” Briaud said.

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