The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Illinois a combined “C-” for infrastructure, which isn’t surprising, considering the federal and state governments struggle to maintain America’s roads, bridges and dams.
In a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver mocked politicians for describing infrastructure as “not sexy” and failing to find adequate funding for the nation’s many roads and bridges. Pointing out that America now ranks 16th in the world for Global Competitiveness when it comes to infrastructure, Oliver tore into House Speaker John Boehner and the White House alike for their lack of solutions. Of his many examples, the late-night comedian brought up the federal gas tax. Meant to fund highways across the nation, the tax is currently 18.4 cents per gallon, which hasn’t been updated for inflation since 1993. Had it kept up with inflation, the tax would have risen 39 percent.
Including state and local taxes, Illinois currently taxes 49.1 cents a gallon — making 15 states more expensive than Illinois.
As of 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s infrastructure a “D+”. Illinois also received a “D+ in 2013, but has since risen up to a “C-“.
Unless you’re an art school college student who’s gone from skipping most of his classes to only skipping some, that’s not something to celebrate.
The grade is an average of nine criteria. For Illinois, navigable waterways, which received a “D-“, was the harshest grade.
“An unreliable lock and dam system and inadequate funding threaten the future viability of the State’s navigable waterway infrastructure which is a key to a national and global competitive shipping advantage,” the ASCE report stated.
Okay, fine, it’s hard to get along on the river. How about the other criteria?
Transit and roads, the two criteria commuters are probably most concerned with, received “D+” grades.
When it comes to Illinois roads, the ASCE states that Illinois and Chicago suffer hefty losses: “Congestion is estimated to cost $4 billion annually for the Chicago area alone, and 42% of Illinois’ major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.”
The ASCE states that Northeastern Illinois loses out on transit opportunities thanks to a lack of funding.
And when it comes to Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the country, the ASCE said the “Chicago region under-spends on transit operations and capital compared to both national and international cities. The estimated need to bring the Chicago region’s transit to a state of good repair over the next ten years has risen to $30.9 billion in 2012 from $26.1 billion in 2010.”
A Regional Transportation Authority analysis estimates local transit needs to be higher, determining that the CTA, Metra and Pace face $36.4 billion in capital needs over the next 10 years.
The highest ranks went to aviation and bridges, which both received “C+” grades.
Sure, many states are in the same condition as Illinois, but that doesn’t really take away the sting, nor does it improve our roads, bridges or dams. Instead of getting up on a soapbox, I’ll leave you with a few details from the ASCE’s report:
* Illinois has 212 high hazard dams.
* 8.5% of Illinois’ bridges are considered structurally deficient.
* 7.4% of Illinois’ bridges are considered functionally obsolete.
* Driving on roads in need of repair costs Illinois motorists $3.7 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs — $448.61 per motorist.
* Illinois has reported an unmet need of $647.3 million for its parks system.
* It is estimated that Illinois schools have $8.2 billion in infrastructure funding needs.