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US infra needs $4.6trn, says engineering group

The ASCE's quadrennial report card gives the country’s infrastructure a D+, unchanged since 2013, as policymakers mull a spending plan.

Once again, the American Society of Civil Engineers has graded US infrastructure just a D+, with $4.59 trillion in investment called for over the next decade.

The overall grade is unchanged from 2013, when the ASCE’s quadrennial Infrastructure Report Card was last released, though there were changes within the 16 categories into which the report was broken down. Rails received a B, the only category to break through the C range, while Transit scored the lowest mark, a D-.

“Our nation’s infrastructure is making headlines for all the wrong reasons,” said ASCE executive director Tom Smith as the grade was announced Thursday morning.

The ASCE has released the report card six times since 1998, with the overall grade never topping its current mark. The 2013 grade represented a slight uptick, as the country had received a D in 2005 and 2009. In 2013, President Obama cited the grade when he called for further infrastructure spending.

The report card comes amid President Trump’s vow to push for $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, which Trump reiterated last month in his first address to Congress. Infrastructure spending has support among both parties, though a comprehensive spending plan does not seem imminent.

In releasing the report, the ASCE called for increased spending on infrastructure across federal, state and local governments. Total infrastructure spending across all levels of government and the private sector must rise to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2025 from 2.5 percent today, the report said.

“We’re going to have to say that this is important enough for us to spend a little bit more money,” said Kristina Swallow, ASCE’s president-elect.

Categories evaluated in the report ranged from Bridges (C+) and Roads (D) to Schools and Parks (both D+). Only Rail saw a significant grade increase, rising from a C+ in 2013.