Usually, a C- grade is nothing to celebrate. That’s the letter grade The American Society of Civil Engineers just gave Illinois for its state infrastructure.
So what’s the good news?
In 2010, the last time The American Society of Civil Engineers released an infrastructure report card, Illinois was given a D+. Unfortunately, D+ is also the score given to the country’s infrastructure as a whole this year. Overall, it’s a bleak assessment of the country’s roads, bridges, railways, airports, dams, and more.
“Today’s rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers validates what we already knew: The condition of America’s infrastructure is unacceptable,” wrote U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, in a statement. “Investing in our connected infrastructure system is the key to improving quality of life, strengthening our economic competitiveness and securing our leadership in a changing world.”
In packed urban centers like Chicago, mass transit systems and highways were designed to accommodate far less people, and public infrastructure is breaking down as a result. According to Greg DiLoreto, the former president of the ASCE, crumbling infrastructure has a direct impact on Americans’ quality of life.
“More than 2 out of every 5 miles of America’s urban interstates are congested, and traffic delays cost this country $160 billion in wasted fuel and time,” DiLoreto told NPR. On top of that, “on average, Americans waste 43 hours a year stuck in traffic. Or in other words, one in your two weeks’ vacation, gone.”
Plus, roads in poor condition put more stress on cars, which leads to increased auto repair costs and even accidents. So while modern cars are generally much safer — features like anti-lock brakes have been shown to reduce nonfatal crashes by 14% — the nation’s roadways are not.
Fortunately, Illinois does fare better than the nation as a whole in the infrastructure report. Whereas the national report card rated U.S. airports as a D, Illinois was rated C+. Even though state roads and public transit systems were rated as D and D-, the state still outranked the national average.
In the wake of the report, many politicians are calling on President Donald J. Trump to make good on his campaign promise to invest $1 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure.