The Duluth Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2018 Report Card for the Twin Ports Area’s Infrastructure Monday, giving seven categories of infrastructure an overall grade of ‘C.’ That compares with a ‘D+’ nationwide.
“That’s a pretty darn good scorecard,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who addressed the group.
The report includes an evaluation of the region’s aviation, bridges, drinking water, ports, roads, solid waste and wastewater. Aviation and bridges both received the grade of ‘B-,’ while drinking water received the lowest grade of ‘D.’ This is the first Infrastructure Report Card for this region.
“We developed the Infrastructure Report Card to evaluate where progress has been made in the region, but also where we need to prioritize infrastructure investments to support our industries and maintain the high quality of life we enjoy,” said Craig Bursch, chair, 2018 Report Card for the Twin Ports Area’s Infrastructure.
Other categories and their grades include ports (C+), roads (D+), solid waste (C+) and wastewater (C+). That suggests much of the region’s infrastructure has gone beyond its expected service life, Bursch said.
The report finds that while the Duluth region has had recent infrastructure successes in the transportation sector, aging infrastructure and lack of funding for maintenance and upgrades are issues for other sectors such as drinking water and wastewater. Findings include:
A lack of funding is a major obstacle preventing more infrastructure investment, Nolan said. Although President Donald Trump recently announced an investment program, Nolan said it puts most of the financial burden on localities. Money is available, he argued, but Congress must set priorities. More should be spent on infrastructure, education and healthcare, Nolan said, and less on war.
In Minnesota, for example, there’s a $600 million annual funding shortfall, said Duane Hill of MnDOT. Ports face a similar monetary shortage, added Deb DeLuca of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
The 2018 Report Card for the Twin Ports Area’s Infrastructure was created as a public service to citizens and policymakers of the state to inform them of the infrastructure needs in their community. By using school report card letter grades, civil engineers used their expertise to condense complicated data into an easy-to-understand analysis.
ASCE will release a Minnesota report card later this year.