Washington’s transportation infrastructure has significant needs according to a new report by the Seattle Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The new report, titled the 2013 Report Card for Washington’s Infrastructure, awarded Washington State’s infrastructure a C due to a lack of planned funding and inadequate maintenance.
“We cannot hope to have an A+ economy, with a C level infrastructure,” said James Chae, P.E., M.ASCE, president of the Seattle Section. “Washingtonians need to realize that our ailing infrastructure hurts our wallets and our livelihoods. In fact, travel delays cost Washington State drivers and businesses more than 32 million hours a year, valued at over $1.1 billion annually.”
According to the Report Card, Washington’s roads and transit systems performed the worst of all evaluated sectors, both returning scores of D+.
Nine different categories were graded:
- Aviation earned a C grade as aging facilities, cumbersome land-use policies, and a lack of available funds have detrimental impacts on Washington’s aviation system.
- Bridges were awarded a C-, in part due to the nearly 400 structurally deficient bridges in Washington State. 36 percent of Washington’s bridges are past their design life of 50 years.
- Dams earned the highest grade in the Report Card: a B. However, close to 40 percent of Washington’s dams are categorized as significant or high hazard dams. A large proportion of dams in Washington are over 50 years old, and development downstream of many dams has significantly increased since the dams were built.
- Drinking Water earned a C-. 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 percent of the state’s water systems and are only regulated at the county level.
- Rail was awarded a C-, due to the concerning condition of some congested corridors and short line rails. By 2030, $2 billion worth of improvements are needed and 90 percent of these projects are unfunded.
- Roads earned one of the lowest grades in the Report Card: a D+. The system, much of which was built 50 to 60 years ago, is struggling under increasing traffic and financial pressure. Reduced maintenance has caused an 11 percent increase in state highway paving backlog and a 32 percent decrease in county road paving.
- Schools were awarded a mediocre grade of C, in part due to the fact that by 2018, 56 districts are anticipated to be under capacity by about 50,000 students. During the last decade, districts who attempt to raise capital for school facilities locally have faced a 50% failure rate with voters.
- Solid Waste/Hazardous Waste earned a C. Over 16 million tons of waste was generated in Washington by citizens, industry, and manufacturing in 2010.
- Transit earned a D+ grade, in part due to the pace of transit maintenance and expansion not keeping up as transit competes for scarce transportation dollars at the state and federal level.
To learn more, please visit www.infrastructurereportcard.org/washington/washington-overview/