C

Vermont 2014 Report

2014 Vermont Infrastructure Report Card

2014 Report Card GPA: C

The Vermont Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2014 Report Card for Vermont’s Infrastructure on Thursday, October 16th in Montpelier. This new report reviews the current condition and impact of Tropical Storm Irene on Vermont’s bridges, dams, drinking water, wastewater, roads and solid waste.

2014 report card for vermont's infrastructure

Vermont Infrastructure Grades

Bridges
Bridges
C

Approximately 30% of Vermont’s bridges are deficient, compared to a national average of about 24%. Vermont ranks 23rd in the nation based on the percentage of structurally deficient bridges due in large part to the age of the Vermont bridge network. However, the percentage of structurally deficient bridges declined from 19.7% in 2008 to just over 8% in 2013. The Vermont Agency of Transportation estimated in 2008 that $110 million is needed every year for 20 years to fill the bridges funding gap and address the structural and age issues. In 2014, state legislators and the Governor passed the largest investment ever in the state’s transportation infrastructure containing $140.3 million for bridges which will help to improve the overall condition of the state’s bridges.

Dams
Dams
C

Vermont has 1,219 dams in its state inventory and 198 (16%) of those structures are classified with a high-or significant-hazard potential. Vermont’s Dam Safety Program is understaffed and depends on voluntary actions by dam owners or a time-consuming state process for correcting safety deficiencies. Based on inspections completed in 2013, 35% of dams inspected were in poor condition. The Vermont Dam Safety Program relies heavily on educating dam owners of safety risks to motivate repairs. The financial burden of repairing or removing the poor-condition dams is estimated to be $22 million for all removals and $35 million for all repairs. Eight obsolete and unsafe dams have been removed from Vermont waters over the past five years, with three of the removals taking place in 2013. The majority of Vermont dams are the responsibility of private landowners that tend to have limited willingness to invest in maintenance and repairs. Vermont House Bill 590, considered by the Vermont legislature in 2014, could require registration of dams to improve public safety but has not become law yet.

Drinking Water
Drinking Water
C-

Vermont has a total of 1,377 active public water systems, and 97% of these are small community systems. Vermont needs $510 million over the next 20 years to meet the demands of the Small Community Water Systems (CWS), and additional resources are needed for the 24 medium and 7 large systems. Vermont is one of 15 states that receives the minimum federal loan program allotment of 1%. Annual funding deficits ranged from $10 million to $40 million over the past four years, providing only about half of the funding needed for Vermont’s drinking water systems. While 30 public water systems issued boil water notices as a result of Irene, impacting more than 16,500 people, the damage and repairs required have not been fully reported.

Roads
Roads
C-

Vermont ranks 28th in the nation in state highway performance and cost effectiveness, moving up 14 spots from 42nd in the previous year. This was due largely to the influx of emergency funding that Vermont received in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene which significantly impacted Vermont’s roads. To continue making improvements at the same rate since 2011, VTRANS estimates a funding need of $700 million per year, at least through 2018. Positively, state legislators and the Governor passed the largest investment ever made in the state’s transportation infrastructure which contains $685.7 million in transportation funding for 2015. The 2015 Transportation package provides $115.7 million for paving, $108.7 million for town highway programs, $50 million for maintaining and improving roadways, and $13.3 million for highway safety and traffic operations. Vermont has also made progress on road safety with its Strategic Highway Safety Plan cutting road fatalities by nearly half since 2006.

Solid Waste
Solid Waste
C+

In 2012, Vermonters generated approximately 600,000 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). Of that, over 200,000 tons were recycled or otherwise diverted from landfills or incinerators. This represents a 35% diversion rate, almost three times the 12% rate in 1987 before implementation of Vermont’s first robust solid waste management law (Act 78). Though progress has been made in managing solid waste since passage of Act 78, the diversion rate has remained flat at 30% to 35% over the last two decades.

Wastewater
Wastewater
D

Vermont has over 7,000 miles of rivers and streams, 300,000 acres of wetlands, and 812 lakes and ponds, totaling over 230,000 acres. There are 91 wastewater treatment facilities that treat approximately 44 million gallons of sewage and discharge the treated effluent to the waters of Vermont each day. To address Vermont’s clean water needs, $156 million of additional funds is needed annually to do wastewater and stormwater sewer repairs, retrofits, and facility upgrades. Of this, $18 million is the annual need specifically for municipal wastewater infrastructure. Proposed budget cuts in the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund – the primary funding mechanism for financing clean water infrastructure upgrades and retrofits – do not support the municipal wastewater systems in the state that are trying to keep the water clean.

A: EXCEPTIONAL, B: GOOD, C: MEDIOCRE, D: POOR, F: FAILING
Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation

Key Facts about Vermont's Infrastructure

Aviation

12 public-use airports

Bridges

155 (5.60%) of the 2,766 bridges are structurally deficient

Bridge Funding

$79,162,475 spent on state bridge capital projects in 2013

Dams with EAPS

88% of the state regulated dams have an Emergency Action Plan

Dams

40 high hazard dams

Drinking Water

$510.8 million in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years

Energy

32.9 Trillion BTU of renewable energy every year, ranking it 44th

Hazardous Waste

12 sites on the National Priorities List

Levees

1 miles of levees

Public Parks

$10 million of unmet needs for its parks system

Rail

590 miles of freight railroads across the state, ranking 44th nationally

Roads

14,252 miles of Public Roads, with 24% in poor condition

Road Costs

$466 per motorist per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair

Schools

$198 million gap in in estimated school capital expenditures

Transit

7,281,824 annual unlinked passenger trips via transit systems including bus, transit, and commuter trains

Wastewater

$154 million in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years

Key Solutions

Our nation’s infrastructure problems are solvable if we have leadership and commit to making good ideas a reality. Raising the grades on our infrastructure will require that we seek and adopt a wide range of solutions.
Investment

We can no longer afford to defer investment in our nation’s critical infrastructure systems.

Leadership & Planning

Smart investment will only be possible with leadership, planning, and a clear vision for our nation’s infrastructure.

Preparing for the Future

We have to utilize new approaches, materials, and technologies to ensure our infrastructure is more resilient.

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