You are on page 1of 5

Devlin 1

Jakob Devlin

Mrs Debock

English 4

28 February 2018

If you ask for public opinion about the state of America’s infrastructure you will surely

be met with much negative thoughts. From failing road systems to decaying bridges, there is

much room for improvement. Infrastructure is a very important component in everyday society.

From highways to airports, infrastructure is a necessity to modern everyday life. It is obvious

that we need to take care of our infrastructure, but the debate on how much focus and money

should be spent. In order to keep our infrastructure systems working efficiently, one must look

at its current condition, necessary restorations, and its economic impact.

First of all, the current state of America’s infrastructure is inadequate at best. This is

claim has been supported by multiple sources. The American Society of Civil Engineer’s gave

the condition of America’s infrastructure an overall grade of a “D+” in 2017 (Schoen and

Thomas). This grade was based on its evaluation of 16 categories: aviation, bridges, dams,

drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, public

parks/recreation, railroads, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, and wastewater. The only

category to receive a grade higher than a “C” was railroads. These grades have been consistent

since 1998. An example of infrastructure that desperately needs renewal is our country’s dams.

Our nation has over 90,000 dams with the average age being 56 according to the American

Society of Civil Engineers (Schoen and Thomas). Over 15,000 of these dams are considered

“high hazard”. There is an increasing problem with congestion on America’s 25,000 miles of
Devlin 2

inland waterways (Preston). This congestion leads to delays that restrict the efficient travel of

freight. However, railroads received a grade of a “B” this year, and some other categories such

as bridges and ports received grades of a “C”. Although, this shows signs of improvement, it is

not enough to revive our failing infrastructure. All of these examples provided are just a few of

all the infrastructure categories that need renewal. If action isn’t taken to deal with the collapse

of America’s infrastructure it will continue to just get worse.

Furthermore, after analyzing the state of America’s infrastructure, there must be a plan to

renew it. According to Rick Geddes, the Director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure

Policy, the most important plan for solving this infrastructure crisis would be to better maintain

the older existing infrastructure (Bush). He believes the main focus should not be on building

new infrastructure, but that the main focus should be on maintaining what we already have. This

would include current bridges, tunnels, and highways. It may take many years to build a new

highway system, but if we focus on the highway systems we already have it would be less time

consuming and cheaper to repair them. Ed Mortimer, Executive director of Transportation

Infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, believes that all of our infrastructure needs

are pressing. He claims, “...our bridges are crumbling, our ports and waterways aren’t fit to

support the demands of our global economy, and our public transportation just isn’t up to par.

And that’s just scratching the surface.” (Bush). The cause of these failing systems can be due to

poor project selection. If certain infrastructures aren’t obtaining the certain maintenance they

require than they will fall apart slowly but surely. “Fixing America's Roads & Bridges: The Path

Forward” states, “Poor project selection and the politicization of transportation spending have

afflicted America’s road, bridge, and tunnel system for decades.” Project selection is a crucial
Devlin 3

factor in fixing America’s infrastructure. If our government isn’t selecting the necessary projects

to efficiently improve our infrastructure than it will remain at its current state. Officials are more

concerned with their own political gain, rather than focusing on the important needs of

America’s infrastructure.

Lastly, in order to renew the United States crumbling infrastructure, someone must pay

the bill. Renewal of infrastructure is not a cheap task. The article, “Fixing America’s Roads and

Bridges: The Path Forward” states, “Another contributor to America’s deferred maintenance

problem is the lack of a stable stream of funding sufficient to keep the system in a state of good

repair.” The authors, Geddes and Thomas, are saying that a major reason America’s

infrastructure is in bad condition is because there is no adequate supply of money in order to

maintain it. The United States government needs to come up with a financial plan of where the

money will come from and how much of it is needed. The article, “U.S. Infrastructure Renewal:

Who Should Pay the Bill?” states, “Yet when the Trump administration laid out its promised

vision for a $1 trillion, multi-year national infrastructure plan on May 23, the plan sparked

controversy about what kind of infrastructure deserved top priority, and how to finance it.”

Controversy was sparked over this plan because theres is not a clear way to finance this $1

trillion plan yet. With a plan of $1 trillion over a ten year plan only $200 billion of it would be

direct federal funding (“US Infrastructure Renewal: Who Should Pay the Bill”). Where will the

other $800 billion come from? The article “How to Really Fix America’s Infrastructure

Problem” says that we need to attract more private sector funding. Private-investors have nearly

$120 trillion in assets and are searching for long-term investments (Duvall, Palter, and Rocca).

This could be a major source of funding for the infrastructure renewal plan. Just a small
Devlin 4

percentage of private-investor assets invested into United States’ infrastructure renewal would

make a huge difference.

In order to keep our infrastructure systems working efficiently, one must look at its

current condition, necessary restorations, and its economic impact. After analyzing the

significant need for infrastructure repair in America you can see that it is a developing problem

and will continue to get worse if the government does not take action. Roads will continue

crumble, and deficient bridges are not safe for the public. A plan must be put into place to take

care of the major projects that desperately need fixing. Not only must plans be made but they

must be put into action and followed through with to get the job done.
Devlin 5

Works Cited

America, Jul 25 2017 North. “U.S. Infrastructure Renewal: Who Should Pay the Bill?”


Bush, Daniel. “What Would It Take to Fix America's Crumbling Infrastructure?” ​PBS​, Public

Broadcasting Service, 8 Jan. 2018,


Duvall, Tyler, et al. “How to Really Fix America's Infrastructure Problem.” ​Time​, Time, 30 Mar.


“Fixing America's Roads & Bridges.” ​Committee for Economic Development of The

Conference Board​,

Preston, Benjamin. “America's Infrastructure Still Rates No Better than D , Engineering Experts

Say.” ​The Guardian​, Guardian News and Media, 9 Mar. 2017,


Thomas, Lauren, and John W. Schoen. “America's Infrastructure Is Close to Failing, Report

Says.” ​CNBC​, CNBC, 9 Mar. 2017,