Pennsylvania Infrastructure Earns a “C-”

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The 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure was released today at four events around the state. Pennsylvania earned a cumulative GPA of a “C-,” which was the same grade the state earned four years ago. The report included an evaluation of the state’s aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, freight rail, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, parks and recreation, passenger rail, ports, roads, schools, solid waste, stormwater, transit, and wastewater.  Overall, Pennsylvania’s infrastructure is in mediocre condition.

Among the highest grades was freight rail, with a “B,” and parks and recreation and hazardous waste each with a “B-.” Freight rail infrastructure in the state has benefited from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Freight Rail Bureau and private sector support. While state parks and recreation infrastructure funding needs are significant – the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources requires $783 million to bring parks infrastructure back to a state of good repair – Pennsylvania is embracing new funding sources and has a history of prioritizing parks and green spaces. Additionally, hazardous waste infrastructure has benefited from reductions of waste generation and parties are working to clean up and redevelop abandoned contaminated sites.

Conversely, the water categories received some of the lowest grades. Stormwater and drinking water each received “D” grades, while wastewater earned a “D-,” the lowest grade in the report.  Much of Pennsylvania’s water infrastructure requires repair, replacement, and capacity upgrades. Pipes are even exceeding100 years in age. There is a significant funding gap between dollars spent and what is needed.

In addition to analyzing 18 categories of infrastructure, the Pennsylvania Report Card Committee also made recommendations to raise the grades. First, the Committee recommended continued investment in the transportation infrastructure network. Act 89, the 2013 state legislature’s transportation investment package, provided significant funding increases for roads, bridges, and transit systems. Thanks to Act 89, 2,600 projects are currently in progress or have been completed around the state. Although progress is significant and transportation systems are steadily improving, there must be efforts of continued investment in transportation infrastructure to sustain momentum. Localities are urged to act to raise their own revenue.

Furthermore, the 2018 Report Card Committee recommended leadership and planning for water-related infrastructure systems. Water systems require investment commensurate with the role these systems play in protecting public health and safety. Finally, the 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure found that we need to continue to prepare for the future. Given the significant backlog of needs across the state, innovative solutions are more important now than ever. ASCE recommends lawmakers fund research, development, and deployment of new ideas. Moreover, private industry should have a seat at the table to help identify new technologies and we should continue to foster collaboration.

The Pennsylvania State Council representing the Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Sections of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published the 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure. You can read the full Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure at www.pareportcard.org or www.infrastructurereportcard.org/Pennsylvania.

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