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America’s Engineers Say Our Bridges and Highways Are in Big Trouble

May 10, 2016, 4:09 PM UTC
Photograph by Boston Globe via Getty Images

America will fall $1.44 trillion short of what it needs to spend on infrastructure through the next decade, a gap that could strip 2.5 million jobs and $4 trillion of gross domestic product from the economy, a report showed on Tuesday.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates that through 2025, the United States has funded only about 56% of its needed infrastructure spending.

The nation needs to spend $3.32 trillion to keep its ports, highways, bridges, trains, water and electric facilities up to date but has funded only $1.88 trillion of that, ASCE said. The shortfall rises to $5.18 trillion through 2040 without new funding commitments.

U.S. GDP was $18 trillion in 2015, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Examples of major U.S. infrastructure failures abound, from Flint, Michigan’s drinking water crisis to travel delays at New York’s decrepit LaGuardia Airport and the deadly 2007 I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minneapolis.


Crumbling infrastructure “has a cascading impact on our nation’s economy, impacting business productivity, gross domestic product, employment, personal income, and international competitiveness,” said the ASCE report, which is an update to its previous report, released three years ago.

It also dampens families’ disposable income. From 2016 through 2025, each household will lose $3,400 annually because of infrastructure deficiencies, ASCE said.

Since its last report, most areas have been stable or shown modest improvement and have been buoyed by recent federal, state and local investments.

But surface transportation has worsened, with the gap increasing compared to previous studies, the group said.