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Obama References ASCE Report Card in State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, President Obama noted the importance of the nation’s infrastructure—both to our economy, and our way of life. The 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure evaluated the current state of our infrastructure and the results were disappointing. It is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.

As the president said:

“Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped.  South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do.  Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do.  China is building faster trains and newer airports.  Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.” 

So over the last two years, we’ve begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry.  And tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble those efforts.  

We’ll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.  We’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based [on] what’s best for the economy, not politicians. 

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.  This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car.  For some trips, it will be faster than flying –- without the pat-down.  As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.  

We have to do better.  America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System.  The jobs created by these projects didn’t just come from laying down track or pavement.  They came from businesses that opened near a town’s new train station or the new off-ramp."  

Read the full transcript of the president’s speech.

View a video of the speech. 


The nation’s failing infrastructure affects all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. We sit in the same traffic jams and use water from the same aging pipes.

Bold thinking and leadership are part of the solution, but we must also be willing to make the hard decisions when it comes to infrastructure funding. The overall price tag may seem overwhelming—especially when so many Americans are struggling. However, investing in those same systems will create jobs and support our economy—something our grandparents and great-grandparents recognized decades ago when faced with similar challenges.

Learn more about the state of America’s infrastructure.