Engineers give Missouri’s infrastructure a C-

Report pans public and private infrastructure

A new report from Missouri members of the American Society of Civil Engineers says the state’s economy won’t improve without fixing the “inadequate infrastructure system” first.

Although the report gave Missouri an overall grade of C-minus — which is slightly better than the national grade, D-plus, issued earlier this year — several categories were ranked at a “C” level, the best position on Missouri’s list.

“Missouri is not positioning itself for success,” said Chad Schrand, P.E., co-chair of the engineers’ 2013 Report Card for Missouri’s Infrastructure. “A first-class infrastructure system is necessary for a first-class state.

“A C-minus means we are not meeting the needs of Missouri families or Missouri businesses.”

The report was released at a St. Louis news conference Wednesday morning, and in a statewide news release.

The engineers said their “Missouri Report Card” was created as a public service to the state’s residents and politicians.

By using school report card letter grades, the news release explained, “civil engineers have used their expertise to condense complicated data into an easy to understand analysis.”

The report is based on the work of a team of 26 volunteer civil engineers from the ASCE’s Kansas City and St. Louis sections, who analyzed numerous public records, focusing on 11 infrastructure categories.

“Our state’s future is dependent upon whether we can attract businesses and allow them to thrive” said Steve Randolph, P.E., ASCE’s St. Louis Section president. “A C-minus means that businesses cannot reliably and effectively move goods in an ever-changing global marketplace.

“If we are serious about creating jobs and building a strong economy, then we must also be serious about investing in our infrastructure.”

Among the specific “infrastructure sectors” included in the report:

• Roads earned a “C.” The report said Missouri last passed transportation funding-related legislation in 2004, when a voter-approved constitutional amendment generated funding to improve 2,200 miles of the state’s busiest highways, sped up 55 critical highway projects and allowed $1.6 billion in new construction.

• Bridges received a C-minus. With 339 functionally obsolete bridges — 12 percent of the state’s bridge inventory — Missouri has the 19th lowest percentage in the country.

State Transportation spokesman Bob Brendel noted Wednesday evening the report “is about all Missouri infrastructure — not just the state system. It confirms what we’ve been saying for awhile, that Missouri has underinvested in its infrastructure for a long time. ...

“But with a construction budget that has fallen to about $700 million per year, we now have enough money to maintain the system but little else.”

• Aviation also earned a C grade, partly because officials expect an $81 million shortfall over the next five years.

• Dams received the lowest grade, D-minus. Missouri has 5,099 dams considered hazardous, but regulates only 680 of them, or 13 percent.

• Drinking water earned a C-minus. Even though Missouri has an abundance of water available to communities, its aging water treatment and distribution systems are struggling to keep up with current operations and maintenance demands.

• Energy was rated D-plus. Missouri’s shift away from coal and toward more sustainable energy systems is requiring increased investment in generation facilities, transmission and distribution networks.

• Levees were awarded a C-minus. Missouri has a total of 192 levees, but it’s estimated that 85 percent of them are not in the National Levee Database.

• Inland waterways were awarded a D. Each year, the Missouri River carries 8 million tons of cargo, while the Mississippi River carries 58 million tons to the mouth of the Missouri, and 189 million tons south to Baton Rouge, La.

• Railroads received a C. Greater funding and much greater state financial support will be necessary to meet future travel demands.

• Schools earned a C, in part due to education budget cuts and a lack of long-term funding.

• Wastewater earned a C-minus.

The report is available from http://sections.asce.org/stlouis/documents/ASCEReportCard--Missouri_FINAL_051713v5a.pdf

Posted earlier:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Civil engineers say Missouri’s infrastructure gets only a C minus.

The regional chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the letter grade Wednesday. It is part of a report card that evaluated the state’s aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, inland waterways, levees, railroads, roads, schools and wastewater. Each sub-category also received a grade.

The engineers found the most faults with the state’s dams and energy, giving them both D-minus grades. The report says Missouri regulates only a portion of the dams that could cause significant damage if they failed. The engineers also said more investment is needed to help shift from coal toward sustainable energy.

The state’s roads earned a C. Lawmakers ended their session without approving a 1 cent state sales tax for transportation projects.

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