In the Donald Trump era, the United States appears to be more politically divided than it has been in decades. Still, there are matters of public policy that most Americans can agree on — chief among them is investment in infrastructure. According to a recent non-partisan Gallup poll, three out of four Americans support the president’s plan of spending more federal money on infrastructure.
The president proposed a $1 trillion plan to improve aging roads, bridges, and tunnels across the country. While funding the project has proven to be a political challenge, broad public support for the plan is rooted in necessity.
About seven out of every 100 miles of roadway nationwide are in poor condition; 9 percent of bridges nationwide are structurally deficient, meaning that they are in need of some repair; and 17 percent of dams in the country have a high hazard potential — meaning a functional failure would result in the loss of life.
For many, the notion of crumbling infrastructure conjures images of a bridge collapsing during rush hour, or a speeding passenger train hurtling off a faulty track. While such tragedies occur on occasion, they are relatively rare. Most people are affected by aging infrastructure on a daily basis in a number of more subtle ways including traffic congestion, public transportation delays, and vehicle damage.
Kristina Swallow, 2018 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, explained the extent to which poor infrastructure affects our lives. “It’s hurting our economy, it’s hurting our communities’ ability to grow, it’s hurting our quality of life, and in some cases, there are public safety concerns,” Swallow said. “Our infrastructure is not meeting our needs.”
24/7 Wall Street created an index using the share of bridges, roads, and dams that are in a state of disrepair or potentially hazardous, to identify the states with the best and worst infrastructure. States with a higher ranking are the worst on infrastructure.