Rebuilding America's Infrastructure

by Anne Elizabeth Powell, Editor in Chief; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, VA.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 9, Pg. 33-33

Document Type: Feature article


During the years immediately following World War II, the United States built the greatest infrastructure in the modern world. As we move into the 21st centruy, however, we find that this infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly and that the need for rehabilitating it is becoming a matter of some urgency. ASCE published two reports on the condition of our nation's infrastructure�the first in March 1998, the second in March of this year�both of which paint a dismal picture and point to the critical need to restore the nation's roads, bridges, mass transit systems, airports, schools, drinking water and wastewaater systems, dams, and systems for disposing of solid and hazardous waste. The 1998 report gave the nation's infrastructure an overall grade of D; the 2001 assessment meted out a D+. On August 3, 2001, a panel of distinguished practitoiners convened by Civil Engineering examined the problem of the nation's deteriorating infrastructure. Although panel members did not formulate a prescription for rebuilding the American infrastructure, their discussion did provide some intriguing insights into the roots of the problem and the roles that civil engineers will play in rectifying it. The panel devised no prescriptions, no solutions, for bringing an immediate fix to the problem of the nation's deteriorating infrastructure. But each of the participants voiced optimism about the civil engineering profession's ability to assume a strong leadership role in raising public awareness�not only of the state of the infrastructure, but of why infrastructure is important in the first place.

Subject Headings: Infrastructure | Deterioration | Waste disposal | Solid wastes | Public transportation | Hazardous wastes | Engineering profession

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