C

Washington 2013 Report

2013 Washington Infrastructure Report Card

2013 Report Card GPA: C

The purpose of the 2013 Report Card for Washington’s Infrastructure is to offer the public and policymakers an easy to understand assessment of how our infrastructure is doing and what needs attention. This report finds that WA infrastructure earned a cumulative GPA of C. The analysis was conducted over the past year by a team of infrastructure experts from the Seattle Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The 2013 Report Card for Washington’s Infrastructure concludes that while Washington has many types of infrastructure and many great facilities across the state, a lack of planned and guaranteed funding and inadequate maintenance are reported across all nine categories -Aviation, Bridges, Dams, Drinking Water, Rail, Roads, Schools, Solid and Hazardous Waste, and Transit.

2013 report card for Washington's infrastructure

Washington Infrastructure Grades

Aviation
Aviation
C

Washington has a total of 136 airports that provide 250,000 jobs, $15 billion in wages, and $51 billion in economic activity to the state each year. As many as 18 million passengers depart from Washington’s airports each year, and more than 600,000 tons of cargo is transported through the airport system. However, aging facilities, land-use policies and available funds have serious impacts on Washington’s aviation system. Encroachments from land uses that are incompatible with aviation can limit future airport capacity. Long-term, viable funding sources are needed to maintain and repair aviation facilities and provide incentives to develop land use plans that are compatible with airports, allowing them to remain open and provide for increased capacity in the future. Finally, investing in advanced satellite navigation systems and implementing FAA’s NextGen navigation systems will help improve safety, increase capacity, and facilitate business and economic opportunities across the state by providing increased access to large and medium sized communities where a range of different aircraft can land in any weather condition.

Bridges
Bridges
C-

As of 2011, there were 7,743 bridges in Washington state. Of these, 5% (391) are structurally deficient. This places Washington state sixth in the nation for least number of structurally deficient bridges. However, the state maintains an aging infrastructure struggling to handle the demands of modern society. Already, 36% of Washington’s bridges are over 50 years old. Many bridges last well beyond this age, but as time passes, the cost of repairs increase and functionality decrease. This is especially evident in the 20% (1,548) of bridges that are classified as functionally obsolete because they either cannot meet current traffic demands or do not meet current design standards. Over the next 20 years another third of Washington state’s bridges will exceed their design life. State, city, and county departments of transportation have maintained a safe network of bridges to-date, but infrastructure must become a priority in order to provide the foundation for economic success.

Dams
Dams
B

There are 1,174 dams in Washington, close to 40% of which are categorized as significant or high hazard dams. Most of Washington’s dams are regulated by the state Dam Safety Office (DSO). Most of the state regulated dams are privately owned. Washington dams are generally in acceptable condition, but some are aging and do not meet current seismic standards. Some dams have safety deficiencies and are considered unsatisfactory, but do not pose an imminent threat to public safety. Emergency action and O&M plans have been prepared for almost all of the state’s high hazard dams. Continued funding of dam safety programs is essential to maintain or improve upon the current level of dam safety in Washington. No funding programs are on the horizon for repairing private dams.

Drinking Water
Drinking Water
C-

Washington state is known for having great tasting, clear drinking water. Washington is served by many different types of water systems: private wells, large municipal water systems, and private water systems. This study focused on the public and private systems regulated by the state and serving predominantly residential homes. Larger systems often serve commercial and industrial uses too. While only a small percentage of the state’s population is served by smaller water systems serving 25 people or less, they account for 85% of the state’s water systems and are only regulated at the county level. In general, water system capacity for Washington’s larger water systems was adequate to plentiful, while the smaller water systems do not have adequate capacity. Card for Washington’s Infrastructure

Rail
Rail
C-

Washington’s rail system provides essential freight and passenger rail services to Washingtonians. Reaching 3,215 miles across the state, the rail network is owned primarily by private freight operators that also share track with passenger rail. Capital investment in 2012 exceeded 100 million dollars. While the capacity of the rail system overall is adequate, some congested corridors and the condition of some of the short line rails are concerning. WSDOT’s Freight Rail Investment Bank does make loans up to $250,000 with a 20% match to support smaller projects or portions of larger projects and the Freight Rail Assistance Program provides grants to improve the state’s freight rail system. However, by 2030, $2 billion worth of improvements are needed and 90% of these projects are unfunded. By removing car to rail interaction at crossings, accidents have been reducing, but the trend has flattened in the past 3 years.

Roads
Roads
D+

There are more than 136,000 miles of roadways in Washington State, on which 87 million vehicle-miles are driven daily. The bulk of this system was built more than fifty years ago and has lasted for longer and carries more traffic than it was originally designed for. Just as maintenance and improvement needs are increasing, transportation funding is decreasing, accompanied by poorer average pavement condition and increased congestion. The existing methods to fund roads are not sufficient to maintain or expand this roadway system, so new means of funding and implementing roadway projects should be considered.

School Facilities
School Facilities
C

Washington has an estimated 2,050 school facilities with capacity for 1.2 million students. Some school facilities are over capacity and some under, but by 2018, 56 districts are anticipated to be under capacity by about 50,000 students. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is charged with overseeing public kindergarten through 12th grade education facilities. Over the past 20 years, Washington state has contributed a total of approximately $3.9 billion to help fund 1,315 school construction and renovation projects. For school facilities, OSPI administers the K12 Capital Budget and School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP). This program assists local school districts with their school facilities and provides assistance for three categories of projects: new constriction, modernization, and new in-lieu of modernization (replacement). During the last decade, districts who attempt to raise capital for school facilities locally have faced a 50% failure rate with voters. The state currently lacks a comprehensive statewide database for collecting and reporting information about K12 facilities.

Solid Waste
Solid Waste
C

Over 16 million tons of waste was generated in Washington by citizens, industry, and manufacturing in 2010. Impressively, only 44% of this waste was disposed at landfills and the remaining waste was combusted in incinerators, composted, recycled, or otherwise diverted through reuse or recycling of construction debris. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), or garbage, is the largest portion of the total waste generated in Washington but does not include industrial waste, inert debris, or contaminated soils. Hazardous waste in the form of household hazardous waste (HHW), industrial hazardous waste, and waste from toxics cleanup sites are also a key component of the waste management system in the state. Although Washington’s diverted waste stream is nearing 50%, significant shortfalls with collection of household hazardous waste and funding for collection and outreach programs, result in an overall grade for Solid and Hazardous Waste of C.

Transit
Transit
D+

Transit operations run through cities and towns across the state. Washington has more than thirty public agencies that operate in large urban areas like the Puget Sound region as well as suburban and rural areas in Eastern and Western Washington. Twenty-two of the agencies are independently-created public agencies with unique boundaries. There are five city agencies, three county agencies, and one regional agency that overlaps other agency boundaries. More than 217 million trips were taken in Washington in 2011 totaling over 161 million revenue vehicle miles. The state’s growing population has increased 38% since 1990, but in many jurisdictions transit maintenance and expansion has not kept up as transit competes for scarce dollars at the state and federal level. While this burgeoning population is straining the network, Washington is doing many things right for transit. However, a lack of long-term funding puts the system’s future at risk.

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 Washington's Infrastructure

Aviation

64 public-use airports

Bridges

392 (4.80%) of the 8,178 bridges are structurally deficient

Bridge Funding

$496,289,444 spent on state bridge capital projects in 2013

Dams with EAPS

93% of the state regulated dams have an Emergency Action Plan

Dams

186 high hazard dams

Drinking Water

$9.5 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years

Energy

928.1 Trillion BTU of renewable energy every year, ranking it 1st

Hazardous Waste

51 sites on the National Priorities List

Inland Waterways

1,060 miles of inland waterways, ranking it 9th

Levees

658 miles of levees

Ports

119.2 million short tons of cargo in 2012, ranking it 5th nationally

Public Parks

$241.2 million of unmet needs for its parks system

Rail

3,192 miles of freight railroads across the state, ranking 22nd nationally

Roads

80,338 miles of Public Roads, with 31% in poor condition

Road Costs

$656 per motorist per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair

Schools

$556 million gap in in estimated school capital expenditures

Transit

256,959,948 annual unlinked passenger trips via transit systems including bus, transit, and commuter trains

Wastewater

$4.07 billion 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.

Latest News

A Record-Breaking Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving week marks the official start of the holiday season, and therefore the official start of the infamous winter travel season. According to AAA, Thanksgiving...

The Intersection of Infrastructure & Technology

This week, ASCE participated in a series of panels highlighting the increasing interconnectivity of technology and infrastructure. The Hill’s Digitalizing Infrastructure “Digitalizing Infrastructure” examined how...

Sign Up For Email Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Download the Full 2017 Infrastructure Report Card
Prev State Virginia C- Next State West Virginia