Idaho's roads, bridges, dams get poor grades

Idaho's roads, bridges, dams get poor grades »Play Video
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Civil engineers in the Gem State have handed down some tough grades on the condition of the state's roads, bridges, and dams.

The Southern Idaho Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2012 Report Card for Idaho's Infrastructure Thursday, which gave the state an overall grade of C-.

The vast majority of Idaho's infrastructure lacks proper maintenance funding and is poorly equipped to deal with the increasing demands it's faced with as the state continues to grow.

While grades for aviation, road and bridge infrastructure have improved, funding remains inadequate to meet future capacity and funding needs.

"As civil engineers in the state of Idaho, we have a responsibility to safeguard the life, health, property and welfare of the public," said Scott M. Wood, P.E., M.ASCE, president of ASCE Southern Idaho. "We believe it is part of this responsibility to provide the public, including our elected leaders, with critical information about the current state of our infrastructure."

The first report of its kind in Idaho, ASCE's Southern Idaho Section released the Report Card at the Idaho State Capitol Building, with ASCE National President-elect Greg E. DiLoreto, P.E., P.LS., F.ASCE, and ASCE Region 8 Governor Pat White, P.E., M.ASCE, in attendance.

"Idaho now has a clear picture of where its infrastructure stands and what to prioritize as legislators look to invest in Idaho's vital infrastructure and economy," said White.

The Report Card provides an evaluation and letter grade for Idaho's aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water systems, energy, local highways, freight and passenger railroads, schools, state highways, transit and wastewater systems.

The study is a state-focused report similar to ASCE's Report Card on America's Infrastructure, which reviewed the nation's infrastructure and gave it an overall rating of D-.

This report highlights the condition of Idaho's infrastructure so that the public and policy makers can make informed decisions on funding our critical assets that are necessary for our daily lives and our economy.

"The problems our nation's infrastructure faces are significant, and that's evident in Idaho," said DiLoreto. "In the Rocky Mountain West, a road out of commission means that freight can't make their deliveries and your neighbors must take long detours, or perhaps can't go to their destinations. These transportation systems move Idaho's citizens and goods, as well as support local communities. Investment is important to keep the state's economy moving."

Industry experts from public agencies, private firms and non-profit groups led this Report Card effort. More than 25 civil engineering experts compiled issue briefs of 11 different infrastructure categories over the last 18 months.

To arrive at grades for each area of infrastructure, volunteers examined the physical condition, capacity and future need, and studied funding sources and trends that impact maintenance and upgrades

In nearly every area, lack of funding was cited as a reason for poor physical conditions. Of the infrastructure areas, bridges, state highways, transit and passenger rail rank the lowest in the state of Idaho, with local highways and schools not far behind.

The following are the 2012 Idaho Report Card grades:
Aviation - C
Bridges - D+
Dams - C
Drinking Water - C+*
Energy - C+
Local Highways - C-
Rail - Freight - C+, Passenger - D-
Schools - C-
State Highways - D+
Transit - D
Wastewater - B-*

*Drinking and Wastewater grades are based on survey results.

The ASCE Southern Idaho Section developed the Report Card to create a fact-based assessment of the state's infrastructure in one consolidated document.

The report outlines each category of infrastructure succinctly to give political leaders the ability to compare and contrast each category's grade, advise on ways to improve grades and to help make more informed decisions on committing resources.

The ASCE Southern Idaho Section plans to periodically update the Report Card to inform the public and its elected leaders about where improvements have been made and where more resources may be needed.