AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
Since the last update of the American Society of Civil Engineer (ASCE)’s Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card in 2005, we have seen several major infrastructure failures: the gas line explosion in San Bruno, California with major loss of life in 2010; wastewater discharges from Marin County into the San Francisco Bay; and a collapse of the Interstate Route 35 Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota with significant loss of life in 2007. All of these are classic examples of aging infrastructure allowed to perform without sufficiently funded monitoring, rehabilitation, and replacement programs. The 2011 Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card for the San Francisco ASCE Section aims at bringing awareness to, and quantifying the need for, funding to upgrade our area’s essential infrastructure to acceptable levels.
The ASCE San Francisco Section’s Infrastructure Report Card Committee’s reevaluation of the various infrastructure categories in 2011 resulted in an overall grade of “C”, with some of the categories being as desperately low as a “D+”. The Committee has determined that in order to bring all categories up to a grade of “B”, which was deemed the minimum acceptable level, we will need additional annual funding of $2.83 billion.
This update to the Report Card is more essential than ever due to the downturn in the economy and resulting budget constraints that are delaying the maintenance and replacement of critical facilities. Infrastructure only dominates the public awareness when there is loss of life or a catastrophic system failure has occurred, but only proactive measures can prevent them from happening in the first place. One of most important objectives of these Report Cards is to make all political leadership aware of the decaying state of our infrastructure and to be sure they hear our cry for funding before we experience another catastrophic infrastructure failure.
As stewards of the Bay Area’s infrastructure, all professional civil engineers, whether public works department engineers, agency engineers, utility district engineers, or private sector consulting engineers, strive every day to bring the maximum value to our infrastructure from the limited funding available. However, existing funding levels are not proving adequate to allow for these professionals to upgrade our infrastructure systems to meet minimum acceptable standards. The citizens and political leadership of the Bay Area need to take appropriate action to increase funding for the various elements of their infrastructure to assure long-range maintenance, operation, and capacity for the facilities our children will inherit. To inform the public is the purpose for which we present the Bay Area Infrastructure Report Card. It’s time to start paying our overdue infrastructure bills so that we may preserve the quality of life in our communities.
About the American Society of Civil Engineers
“Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 147,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide, and is America’s oldest national engineering society. ASCE’s vision is to position engineers as global leaders building a better quality of life…Comprised of Regional Councils, Younger Member Councils, Sections, Branches, Student Chapters and Clubs and International Student Groups, the Society and its volunteers are fully engaged in making this a better world by design.”