Yesterday the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released their 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure outlining the current condition of America's roads, bridges, water systems, and other public works, assigning it a cumulative grade of D and calling for a five-year, $2.2 trillion investment to increase this subpar grade.
Key to the report findings is the need to build sustainable, durable, and low-maintenance systems and structures.
"Our infrastructure must be constructed with the highest quality materials that reduce future maintenance and ensure durability," Brian McCarthy, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association (PCA) says. "By investing properly we can free up more money for states and communities to use for vital services like schools and police."
For example, concrete pavements can last up to 30 years before resurfacing is required. Asphalt needs to be resurfaced every eight or nine years. If concrete was used instead of asphalt for all new roads built between now and 2015, state governments could save more than $100 billion during the life of the roads.
Plus, according to McCarthy, infrastructure investment can have a significant impact on job growth and the nation's recovery from the current economic recession. "In November, 15% of the reported layoffs occurred in the construction industry. Other industries such as manufacturing were hit even harder," McCarthy says. "Rebuilding our infrastructure could generate jobs on both an immediate and long-term basis in all areas of the economy. For every 10 construction jobs created by a project, the community gains 17 additional jobs that stay in the region."
Building and improving our public buildings, roads and systems also provides the nation with an opportunity to address existing and emerging environmental challenges.
Today, traffic congestion in United States wastes three billion gallons of fuel and contributes to the release of 27.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to a PCA report. The overall economic impact of traffic delays adds up to $80 billion per year. By the year 2032, the nation's highways will see an additional 49 million drivers and 58 million vehicles. Wasted fuel from traffic delays will more than double, to 6.5 billion gallons annually. Carbon dioxide emissions traced to congestion will increase to 60 million tons. Without improvements to our roads and highways, wasted time and higher transportation costs will result in a cumulative economic impact that could exceed $150 billion annually.
"Concrete has long been the foundation of our nation's buildings and roads. Today its value as the most sustainable building material of choice makes it ideal for long-lasting roads and energy-efficient schools, hospitals and other public buildings," says McCarthy.
More information on PCA programs is available at www.cement.org.