AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS (ASCE)
We all use infrastructure every day, but we rarely think about it. Whether you’re driving across roads and bridges, taking a shower, or charging your cell phone, infrastructure affects everyone in Alabama. Infrastructure also impacts our businesses and helps move our economy, taking freight from ports to store shelves and taking workers to their jobs.
The bad news is that Alabama’s infrastructure has some challenges that you should know about before it’s too late to keep these systems from breaking down. Infrastructure deteriorates every single day as it ages, just as our bodies do, and many of these critical systems are reaching the end of their useful life. The effects of weather, wear-and-tear, and increased use from a growing population all take their toll on our infrastructure. Regular maintenance helps extend how long they can serve us, but without regular checkups the condition of our infrastructure is unknown, potentially placing thousands in harm’s way.
While you may not think about infrastructure every day, Alabama’s civil engineers do think about it because they’ve pledged to build it, maintain it, and keep the public safe. The Alabama Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) now provides a Report Card on Alabama’s Infrastructure so every citizen and decision maker can understand how Alabama’s infrastructure is doing. If you drive, if you fly, if you own a business, if you take a shower – this Report Card is for you.
The 2015 Report Card on Alabama’s Infrastructure gave the state an overall G.P.A. of C-. Alabama’s civil engineers studied 11 infrastructure categories, including:
- Drinking Water
- Inland Waterways
Of those 11, four infrastructure categories are in good condition, six categories range from mediocre to poor condition, and one category lacked enough information for a grade to be determined.
The good news is there are solutions to all these challenges , and we can raise Alabama’s infrastructure grades. By learning more today about the conditions of the infrastructure you use every day, you too can help raise the grade.
5 Steps We Can Take Now
The Report Card provides five recommendations to raise our grades:
- 1. Let’s know our dam safety risks. You have to inspect infrastructure to know the condition of it, and when it comes to dams, we’re not doing a good job. In fact, we don’t even know where all the high-hazard dams in the state are. Let’s find and inspect our dams before something happens.
- 2. If we just do the maintenance, we can avoid stinky breaks and getting lost in potholes. Many of Alabama’s homes have septic systems to treat their wastewater, but without being properly maintained they can ruin water supplies for a community. Not keeping up with road maintenance also has a cost. Those annoying potholes are costing every driver in Alabama $300 or more than each year to drive on rough roads!
- 3. Let’s be self-sufficient and invest in Alabama’s future. When it comes to rebuilding the oldest and most deficient infrastructure, our state shouldn’t wait on anyone, especially Washington. Alabama has many infrastructure assets that are simply reaching the end of their life or stand in the way of keeping the economy growing. Let’s leverage state funds to make investments that improve how we work and live.
- 4. When we do work, let’s prepare f or the future. Damage from storms, floods, and other disasters can be minimized if our critical infrastructure is made more resilient. If we review and update the engineering requirements and then implement them over time, we can rebound quicker in a disaster and save hassle and costs in the future. Let’s follow the scout model: be prepared.
- 5. Keep up with new technology and methods for infrastructure. From sensors on infrastructure that alert engineers to issues to delivery models like rapid bridge replacement, innovations are happening with infrastructure. As a hub of construction and engineering firms and a nationally recognized workforce training program, Alabama can continue to collaborate and build cost effective, sustainable infrastructure using these tools.
What You Should Know About Alabama’s Aviation
Alabama has 80 public use airports, 74 of which are listed in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport System (NPIAS), with 6 of those offering commercial service. The state also boasts approximately 7,262 licensed pilots. Historically the state has been well-funded on a per capita basis and most of Alabama’s aviation facilities boast excellent capacity with average to above average facility conditions according to Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) licensing and pavement standards. While significant FAA and ALDOT funding has been allotted to improve Alabama aviation facilities in recent years, the FAA 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan drops below the per capita percentage. Commercial operational metrics fall below average yet based aircraft are slightly above the average. In order for the available capacity to be fully utilized and the lifespan of the existing facilities to be maximized, sufficient funding must be appropriated in order for the state to realize the economic potential of the airport system.
About the Alabama Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
“As civil engineers, we are committed to improving Alabama’s infrastructure. Founded in 1931, the Alabama Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents 1,600 civil engineers in Alabama. We understand that infrastructure is vital to our economy, health, and natural environment. With our commitment to serve and protect the public in mind, civil engineers from ASCE throughout the State graded each infrastructure category according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.”