The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)’s newly released infrastructure report card for California reveals that the state’s infrastructure systems earned a C- grade, marking a drop from the C grade received previously in 2012.
The ASCE evaluated California’s infrastructure in 17 categories, including roads, bridges, ports, transit, and water systems. The C- grade designates the state’s overall infrastructure as “requiring attention.” Here is a breakdown of how California scored in the various categories:
C+: Aviation, Ports, Wastewater
C: Rail, Drinking Water, Schools
C-: Dams, Bridges, Solid Waste, Hazardous Waste, Transit
D+: Public Parks, Stormwater
D: Roads, Inland Waterways, Levees
Not one of CA’s infrastructure categories was robust enough to earn an A (Exceptional, Fit for the Future) or even a B (Good, Adequate for Now). And several infrastructure sections scored a low D grade, which designates those systems as “Poor and At Risk.”
California’s D grade for roads reflects the fact that 51% of California’s major urban roads are in poor condition. California Report Card Committee Co-Chair Tony Akel said congestion presents a major challenge in the Golden State, and is particularly severe in Los Angeles. Two Los Angeles pinch points—the intersection of State Routes 60 and 57 and the intersection of Interstates 710 and 105—appear within the top 10 entries on the American Transportation Research Institute’s truck bottlenecks report. “Congestion means we don’t have enough capacity,” Akel said. “Truckers depend on highways and bridges to provide their transportation services to our state and to the nation.”
Noting that California’s drinking water infrastructure is aging, the report discovered that the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department operates over 3,000 miles of water pipelines and the system’s aging 100-year-old cast-iron mains, which are almost 100-years-old, are to blame for around 75 percent of water main breaks.
Finding that California faces a 10-year maintenance backlog of $137 billion, the ACSE report stresses the need to secure more infrastructure funding. Akel said that California’s SB 1 Road Repair and Accountability Act—the fuel tax increase enacted in 2017 that is projected to raise $54 billion for transportation projects during the next decade—is a positive step, but more funding is needed.
“Our infrastructure systems play a critical role in continued economic prosperity and the preservation of our quality of life. Unfortunately, our state’s infrastructure renewal and replacement programs have been significantly underfunded for a long time. While the state Legislature, municipalities, and California voters have made strides in recent years to raise additional revenue for our infrastructure, we have a lot of catch-up to do, and large funding gaps remain,” states the report.
To raise California’s infrastructure grade, Akel said ASCE’s recommendations include: promoting effective and collaborative leadership; developing plans to better identify funding needs; increasing state and local funding; and informing the public to raise awareness.