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Infrastructure Report Card: Lots of Work Needed

Many roads and bridges in Illinois and across the nation aren't as safe as they could be, but will money be allocated to fix them? (
Many roads and bridges in Illinois and across the nation aren't as safe as they could be, but will money be allocated to fix them? (
March 27, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – While Illinois lawmakers continue to grapple with how to balance an overdue budget, they're being urged to keep the safety of the state's roads and bridges in mind.

According to the latest report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers, there's a lot of work to be done in Illinois, and across the country.

Nationwide, three areas saw a decline since the last report card was issued in 2014: parks, solid waste and transit.

The nation’s grade this year is D-plus.

Greg DiLoreto, chairman of the Committee on America's Infrastructure at the American Society of Civil Engineers, says Illinois was given a C-minus in 2014 with a new state scorecard expected to come out in a few months.

"About the lowest grade in Illinois was in navigable waterways, which earned a grade of D-minus because the facilities there were built in the 1930s and are now in desperate need of upgrades, rehabilitation and repair," he states.

The report points out that a significant back­log of maintenance work needs to be done in Illinois.

DiLoreto says lawmakers need to keep campaign promises to make roads and bridges safer, and taxpayers have to be willing to foot the bill for it.

"We have to recognize that just like your house that needs constant maintenance and repair to keep it looking good and working for you, these systems also require that same level of care and contact," he points out.

DiLoreto says keeping infrastructure sound is not only a safety issue, it's important for the economy as well.

"Americans lose 43 hours per year stuck in traffic,” he points out. “We have some 240,000 water main breaks a year in this country. When one of those happens in front of a business, then the business closes,
workers get sent home, they don't make wages that day and the business doesn't earn any income."

The report gave the nation better grades this year in the categories of hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, ports, rail, schools and wastewater.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL