Civil Engineers Give Ohio’s Infrastructure a C- in 2021 Infrastructure Report Card
February 11, 2021
COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unveiled its 2021 Report Card for Ohio's Infrastructure today, issuing grades from B to D for 16 categories pertinent to Ohio, including: bridges (C+), dams (C-), drinking water (D+), energy (C), hazardous waste (D+), inland waterways (D+), levees (D), parks (C-), ports (C), rail (B), roads (D), schools (C+), solid waste (B-), stormwater (D+), transit (D) and wastewater (C-).
"We found that Ohio has improved some infrastructure areas over the last 10 years, but we also learned that we still have a lot of work to do to improve many grades," said Craig Hebebrand, P.E., ASCE Ohio Council President. "We do these assessments to help citizens and decision-makers understand how Ohio's infrastructure is faring and what can be done to modernize its systems."
The report highlights some positive and innovative infrastructure successes. Rail infrastructure received the highest grade of a B, citing significant investment in technology that improves crossing safety and cut the volume of incidents in half over the last 20 years. Ohio has the fourth largest number of public rail/highway grade crossings in the country (5,737) and the state spends about $15 million annually at public crossings to reduce crashes. The state's 12 intermodal terminal facilities - the 2nd highest volume in the nation - make important connections to ports on the east and west coasts. In addition, Ohio roadways and bridges carry the third highest freight volume in the U.S., and Ohio's 5,188 miles of railroad track alone carry approximately 100 million tons of freight annually.
"For years, America's infrastructure was the envy of the world. But for too long now, we've failed to invest the necessary resources in our nation's roads, bridges, schools and technology. I'm committed to working with President Biden and my colleagues in Congress to invest in our state's infrastructure needs, create jobs for American workers and get our nation moving again," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
Levees, roads and transit all received the lowest grade of 'D.' Ohio's levees protect 151,000 residents and $27.5 billion in property, yet 54% of those residents are living behind a levee which has not been screened. The average age of Ohio's levees is 47 years, nearing their projected design life of 50 years.
The report notes the extensive and long-term lack of transit funding that decreased from $42.3 million in 2000 to $6.6 million in 2018. In 2019, the passage of H.B. 62 was intended to increase state funding for transit to $70 million in 2020 and 2021. Due to COVID-19, those funds have already been reduced to $66.8 million and $56 million. Similarly, the 2019 transportation budget increased the motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees, but with fewer people driving due to COVID-19, motor fuel tax revenues have fallen short of original projections.
"Infrastructure plays a vital role in the lives of Ohio's residents and tourists, and supports commerce for local businesses and freight," said U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson, who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Ohio's roadways and bridges carry the third-highest freight volume in the U.S. and accommodate the sixth-most vehicle miles travelled, making our state an essential tool in the national economy."
Innovation and data-based decision-making were key themes in the report. For example, many Ohio water systems are now implementing advanced metering systems that capture individual usage and allows both system managers and customers to access data and make better water usage decisions. This is an important step since aging water distribution networks are expected to cause a 36% increase in pipeline breaks over the next 20 years. Ohio's energy utilities are also making major investments. Using smart grid telemetry, many utilities can now locate outages in an automated way - a tool that improves safety for utility personnel during and after storms and removes the responsibility for ratepayers to report outages. Innovative practices such as these are important for addressing aging systems.
The report also includes recommendations to raise the grades, such as:
• Create incentives for state and local governments as well as the private sector to invest in maintenance and to improve the efficiency and performance of existing infrastructure.
• Improve land use planning at the local level to consider the function of existing and new infrastructure, the balance between the built and natural environments, and population trends in communities of all sizes.
The Report Card was created as a public service to citizens and policymakers to inform them of the infrastructure needs in their state. Civil engineers used their expertise and school report card letter grades to condense complicated data into an easy-to-understand analysis of Ohio's infrastructure network. This is the first Ohio-specific report card released in more than 10 years. ASCE State Infrastructure Report Cards are modeled after the national Infrastructure Report Card, which gave America's infrastructure a grade of 'D+' in 2017.
A full copy of the Report Card for Ohio's Infrastructure is available at https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/state-item/ohio/
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.
QUOTES FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
"Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Mike DeWine to get an increase in funding for transportation approved by the General Assembly nearly two years ago, Ohio finds itself in a much better position than most states. Those funds have allowed ODOT to continue maintaining our roads and bridges, safety projects, and local programs without interruption, despite funding headwinds due to COVID-19. We still have much work to do, but without these resources our situation would be dire, at best." - Lloyd MacAdam, P.E., Chief Engineer and Assistant Director for Transportation Policy, Ohio Department of Transportation.
Media contact: Matt Bruning, Press Secretary | (614) 512-5121 | Matt.Bruning@dot.ohio.gov
"Public transit is a vital component of a properly planned, intermodal transportation network moving goods and people. Across the nation, there is a critical need for a long-term, sustainable funding stream on the national, state and local levels. Ohio invests less than $1 per capita in public transportation and lags behind more than 40 other states in this area. Ohio transit systems collectively provided more than 100 million annual trips (pre-COVID) and in order to provide safe, reliable and efficient service to the community, we must invest in our critical infrastructure including vehicles, facilities, technology and support equipment." - Kimberly Dunham, CEO, Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority
Media contact: Laura Koprowski, Chief Communications and Customer Experience Officer | (419) 764-5951 | email@example.com
"ASCE's infrastructure report card hit's the nail on the head," states Dean Ringle, Executive Director for the County Engineers Association of Ohio. "Despite everyone's best attempts at improving all our modes of transportation and our utility infrastructure, funding shortfalls have kept our condition grades low." Ringle added, "The industry experts recognize the quality of our infrastructure will continue to suffer without adequate funding. For the safety of our citizens, and for economic revitalization, we must continue to invest, upgrade and improve infrastructure throughout Ohio and in our communities."
Media contact: Dean C. Ringle, Executive Director | (614) 221-0707 | firstname.lastname@example.org
"The ASCE Infrastructure Report clearly makes an excellent case for investment in Ohio's transit systems, which support millions of people in 83 of our 88 counties. Public transportation has been especially vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing access to food, front line jobs, housing and health care - without ever shutting down. Central Ohio expects a million more people to move to the region in the next 30 years and our state is changing with an increasingly younger and older population who have different mobility needs than the last century. Transit will be crucial to providing equitable access to opportunity through innovative mobility solutions, including on-demand and first-last mile options, high-capacity rapid transit, and traffic technology that makes travel safer and more efficient. Increased and dedicated funding for public transit is an investment in economic development and a commitment to connecting all Ohioans to prosperity." - Joanna M. Pinkerton, P.E., President/CEO, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)
Media contact: Jeff Pullin, Public & Media Relations Manager | (614) 275-5938 | PullinJD@cota.com
"As Ohio's largest transit system, and the only provider of rail, our system has proven to be one of our region's greatest assets for mobility enhancement for the Greater Cleveland area," said India Birdsong, CEO and General Manager of GCRTA. "That's why we welcome the recommendations of the ASCE's Ohio infrastructure report card and advocate for support to address the $514 million in GCRTA's unfunded capital needs. We must keep this transit system and our customers moving forward."
Media contact: Linda Scardilli Krecic, Spokesperson, Public Information Officer | (216) 390-9605 | email@example.com
"We are very fortunate to live in Ohio where water resources are plentiful, and it is rare that we worry about water needs like our neighbors out west. Our continuing challenge is to protect our water resources which includes maintaining and upgrading our flood mitigation infrastructure, "said Boris Slogar, P.E., Chief Engineer, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. "Dams and levees throughout the Buckeye State provide benefits including flood mitigation, recreation and conservation; but many are reaching a critical point in their life cycle. The repair cost for deficient dams in Ohio is estimated at nearly $300 million; inland waterways should get about $120 million over the next 15 years; and 25% of Ohio's levees are in need of repair to bring them to a minimally acceptable rating."
Media contact: Boris E. Slogar, Chief Engineer | (330) 556-4816 | firstname.lastname@example.org
"Infrastructure is the backbone for the Columbus region's economy, especially as we look toward recovery from the pandemic. New investments, innovations and partnerships are critical to improving everything from freight and transit to energy and water," said Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Executive Director William Murdock, which is Central Ohio's regional council. "The ASCE report clearly shows the need and outlines tools to achieve what our workforce, our businesses, and our most vulnerable residents are all depending on."
Media contact: Niel M. Jurist, Director of Communications & Engagement | (614) 204-8722 | email@example.com