ASCE Illinois Infrastructure Report Card issues call to action to raise the grade and shines light on critical role infrastructure plays for Illinois families and businesses
Chicago, Ill. – The Illinois Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) today revealed its 2022 Infrastructure Report Card, giving the state an overall grade of C-. Illinois’ civil engineers studied eleven infrastructure categories. Of those eleven, six categories are in mediocre condition, and five categories are in poor condition.
The committee representing more than 2,700 civil engineers across Illinois collected and analyzed data and based its grades on eight criteria, including condition, funding, public safety and resilience. As a major hub for our nation’s infrastructure, Illinois has taken considerable steps to improving its transportation and infrastructure networks and several major categories showed improvements – notably transit and roads.
“Every person in Illinois relies on infrastructure every day – from brushing our teeth, taking the train to work or going to the grocery store – infrastructure is the backbone of our daily lives and communities,” said Andrew Walton, President, ASCE – Illinois Section. “Bipartisan collaboration resulting in Rebuild Illinois and the federal infrastructure bill signal a new era for our state’s built environment, and this report card demonstrates how proper and consistent funding can ultimately produce more jobs, safer communities and more money in taxpayers’ wallets.”
“Thanks to Gov. Pritzker’s historic, bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital program, the Illinois Department of Transportation is back in the business of building and maintaining a premier system of transportation,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Progress does not happen overnight, but we are moving toward making Illinois infrastructure the country’s finest. Through sustained investment and committed leadership, Illinois is positioned to remain the transportation hub of North America for generations to come.”
This report underscores that Illinois’ freight network remains among the most robust in the nation and plays a critical role in the local and national economies. Nowhere else in the country do all seven Class I railroads converge and operate, and in 2019, Illinois ranked 9th nationally among the states in total tonnage of waterborne freight, and third in domestic tonnage. Proven especially true during the COVID-19 crisis, Illinois’ infrastructure afforded stability that helped offset supply chain challenges when it was strained most.
“ASCE Illinois has developed a reputable rating system that uses professional engineering metrics against the condition of our state’s significant infrastructure systems that include multi-modal transportation, public utilities, and inland waterway assets and facilities. While this year’s grade of C- maintains the overall system grade carrying over from 2018, the needle is moving up, resulting from significant financial investments made by the Illinois legislature through the 2019 Rebuild Illinois Capital investment program,” said Sen. Don DeWitte, who serves as the Minority Spokesperson of the Senate Transportation Committee. “These investments are showing positive progress in the areas of roads, bridges, air, and rail systems in Illinois, that not only bring these long-delayed improvements into safer states of good repair, but will maintain these foundational infrastructure investments for further expansion and system upgrades, to maintain Illinois’ status as the transportation hub of the nation.”
The state has continued to prioritize critical investments for the sectors that move goods and services; Aviation (C+), Inland Waterways (D), Ports (C-) and Rail (C+). The results of this could not be clearer as all these categories were able to maintain and, in some cases, improve their grades since 2018.
Illinois’ communities and water agencies are making progress, but the state continues to have one of the largest shares of lead service pipelines in the nation, impacting residents who rely on these systems for clean drinking water. Out of 4 million total service lines, over 675,000 have been identified as lead and almost 380,000 as copper with lead solder services. While efforts from Congress and the Illinois EPA are addressing these service lines to protect residents, grant programs must be accelerated to improve conditions at a faster pace. Illinois’ aging drinking water infrastructure is leading to leaking pipelines, costing taxpayers money and critical resources. In 2017, a total of 106 million gallons per day (MGD) were lost amongst Lake Michigan allocation permittees, or 13% of total water supplied. Additional funding is also needed for aging stormwater infrastructure that must keep up with increasing rainfall trends from climate change.
Transit and roads both receiving a “D+” were able to show notable increases. These systems have stabilized and begun to improve thanks in large part to Rebuild Illinois, despite most of the funding not taking effect yet. The percentage of state-maintained highways in excellent condition grew 5.2% in 2020 when compared to 2019. In 2021, the state raised its gas tax to 39.2 cents per gallon and its diesel tax to 46.7 cents per gallon, which will contribute to future growth. Through the federal bill and Rebuild Illinois, operating budgets for transit systems are also expanding. For example, in 2022, Metra (commuter trains) is budgeting operating expenses of $900 million, which is $100 million or 12.5% higher than in 2021. 101 out of Illinois’ 102 counties offer transit service, and 57 public transit operators and providers supported an estimated 600 million trips in 2019, the second largest public transportation system in the U.S.
The report also includes calls to action to raise the grades, including the recommendation for increased focus on workforce development, the lead service line problem, aging stormwater infrastructure and continued investments in Illinois’ multimodal freight network to accelerate progress across the rail, ports, inland waterways and roadway network.
About the Illinois section of the American Society of Civil Engineers
Civil engineering experts in their respective fields from the Illinois Section of ASCE, with assistance from the Central Illinois Section, Quad Cities Section, and the St. Louis Section, prepared The Report Card for Illinois’ Infrastructure. The Report Card is created to educate and advise our elected officials and citizens on the condition of our State’s infrastructure using sound engineering evaluation criteria and to provide recommendations on how to raise the grade. Since 1915, the Illinois Section has represented Civil Engineers in America’s engineering hub and the organization recently celebrated its Centennial Anniversary. ASCE provides a platform for our members to mentor, learn and teach, which enables us to serve as stewards of infrastructure in our state, nation and throughout the world.
About the American Society of Civil Engineers
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers represents more than 150,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE works to raise awareness of the need to maintain and modernize the nation's infrastructure using sustainable and resilient practices, advocates for increasing and optimizing investment in infrastructure, and improve engineering knowledge and competency. For more information, visit www.asce.org or www.infrastructurereportcard.org and follow us on Twitter, @ASCETweets and @ASCEGovRel.