Released by ASCE-NCS.ORG on June 15, 2021

The National Capital Section (NCS) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2021 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. The previous edition of the Report Card was released on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

The 2021 report includes an assessment of the District’s bridges, drinking water, energy, levees, rail, roads, transit and wastewater. D.C.'s Infrastructure received a "C" grade in 2021, an step in the right direction as the grade in 2016 was a "C-". However, the grade remains "mediocre."

Because infrastructure has a direct impact on our lives every day—from the quality of water delivered through taps in our homes, to the condition of school buildings our children attend and to the condition and capacity of the roads and rails we travel on, those living or working in, and those governing D.C.'s infrastructure funding policies must invest adequately to safeguard its role that is vital to our economy, security, recreation, and safety.

News Release: NCS gives D.C.'s infrastructure a "C" grade for 2021

JUNE 15, 2021, WASHINGTON, D.C.: The National Capital Section (NCS) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released today the 2021 Report Card for Washington, D.C.'s Infrastructure. The NCS Report Card Committee, consisting of D.C.- area civil engineers, reviewed eight categories of infrastructure, and gave it an overall grade of 'C', which means the District's infrastructure is in mediocre condition.

A: EXCEPTIONAL, B: GOOD, C: MEDIOCRE, D: POOR, F: FAILING.
Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

D.C. has implemented innovative strategies to modernize its energy and wastewater infrastructure to ensure reliable service to its residents. However, the city’s levees and transit network are not prepared to meet future needs. The committee graded bridges (B-), drinking water (C+), energy (C+), levees (D), rail (B), roads (D+), transit (D) and wastewater (B-).

“The capital’s infrastructure systems are getting closer to where we want them to be,” said Ranjit Sahai, P.E., ASCE’s D.C. Report Card Committee Chair. “We have seen encouraging trends since the 2016 report was issued when the grade was a ‘C-‘, but D.C. must continue to explore all solutions to improve the grades if we are to accommodate a growing population and economy in the future.”

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-style letter grades to condense complicated data into an easy-to-understand analysis of D.C.’s infrastructure. ASCE State and Regional Infrastructure Report Cards are modeled after the national Infrastructure Report Card, which gave America’s infrastructure an overall grade of ‘C-’ in 2021.

To view the D.C. Infrastructure Report Card and all eight categories, navigate to this link.

2016 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure Reveals C- for Grade

Washington, D.C. (January 14, 2016): The unimpeded rays of sunlight penetrating the frigid overnight air at D.C. Water’s First Street Tunnel Project gave clarity to the unfolding scene but not warmth. Many rubbed their hands and most had winter coats on at the gathering of civil engineers for the unveiling of the Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure. However, their conversation was not focused on the weather; the cold wind in the open-air venue did not matter. “My heartiest congratulations to the Section for culminating this vital effort today,” Dr. Efimba from Howard University was overheard saying.

Scott Wolf, President ASCE-NCS (2015-16) welcomed the audience and noted, “We are responsible for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of our core infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, water pipes and levees. With that responsibility comes the obligation to periodically assess the overall state of the infrastructure, report on its condition and performance, and advise on steps to improve it.”

Ranjit Sahai, Chair of the 2016 Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure committee thanked Chris Manalo, Vice-Chair, and each of the more than dozen active technical members of the committee for their role in bringing the 15-month long process for the development of the Report Card to conclusion. In sharing the findings of the Report, Ranjit noted that D.C.'s Infrastructure received a "mediocre" C- grade. It is of only moderate quality; not very good. Because infrastructure has a direct impact on our lives every day—from the quality of water delivered through taps in our homes, to the condition of school buildings our children attend and to the condition and capacity of the roads and rails we travel on, those living or working in, and those governing D.C.'s infrastructure funding policies must invest adequately to safeguard its role that is vital to our economy, security, recreation, and safety.

George Hawkins, CEO and General Manager of DC Water spoke next. The gist of his message was: ASCE's Report Card initiative is independent, fair, and trust-worthy; He is proud of D.C.'s Drinking Water and Waste Water's C+ grades as those have climbed up from the earlier D- and are better than the national averages; The commitment of the DC Water organization is unwavering in its focus on continuing the climb up the infrastructure grading scale.

D.C. Infrastructure Report Card Committee team members Hari Aamidala, Piers Causton, Todd Graham and Kari Kubista were present at the unveiling of the Report Card. Carol Bailey, Veronica Davis, Jason Levinn, Sebastian Guerrero, Ryan Carey, and Robyn Jackson did not make it to the event.

Methodology

The purpose of the Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure is to inform the public and decision makers of the current condition of D.C.’s infrastructure in the concise and easily accessible format of a school report card. Each of the categories of infrastructure covered in the Report Card is assessed using rigorous grading criteria and recent data to provide a comprehensive assessment of the area’s infrastructure. ASCE has used the following criteria to discuss and grade the state of D.C.’s infrastructure:

  • Capacity
  • Condition
  • Funding
  • Future Need
  • Innovation
  • Operation & Maintenance
  • Public Safety
  • Resilience

About the Grades

ASCE has defined the grading scale for this infrastructure report as:

GRADERANGEDESCRIPTION
A 90-100% Exceptional: Fit for the future
B 80-89% Good: Adequate for now
C 70-79% Mediocre: Requires attention
D 51-69% Poor: At risk
F 50% or Lower Failing: Unfit for purpose

Compilation of Media Coverage on the 2016 Report

Print/Online

Washington Post: DC's infrastructure gets a C-minus — and transportation ranks lowest
Despite recent investments in the District's infrastructure, it continues to crumble — and in the worst state is the city's transportation system. A report card to be released Thursday by the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the city a C ...

WTOP: Report card gives DC infrastructure a C-minus
A report card says the District's infrastructure is in slightly better shape than that of the rest of the nation, but that the condition and congestion of the roads is costing each person who drives in the city plenty. The American ...

Roll Call: District's Roads, Transit Score Badly in Engineers' Report
The district's infrastructure is mediocre overall and close to falling into the “at risk” category, according to the group's first “Report Card for D.C.'s Infrastructure.” The District fared better than the national average, but it's nothing to ...

Washington City Paper: Report Card: DC Gets Ds in Levees, Roads, and Transit, Bs in Bridges and Rails
Remediation may be in order: The District is "at risk" of having levees, roads, and transit infrastructure that are "unfit for purpose," according to an area report card released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers. D.C. received a "G.P.A ...

DCist.com: Report: DC's Infrastructure Gets C- Grade Overall, Higher Than The National ...
The state of D.C.'s infrastructure is a grade higher than the national average, despite the city's low-scoring roads, transit system, and levees, according to a report card released today by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The country's ...

TV & Radio Broadcast

American Society of Civil Engineers. on WTOP-DC (Radio) - Washington, D.C.
01/14/2016 05:05:43
... costs best 833 dollars per driver the Washington Post obtained a new study from the American society of civil engineers it gives the District seen minus citing a few well known problems including overly congested roadways and trouble transit system in the District make L.A. WTO the ...

American Society of Civil Engineers. on WTOP-DC (Radio) - Washington, D.C.
01/14/2016 05:33:11
... infrastructure in the nation's capital it's a scene minus that's where the American society of civil engineers there's an annual reports this study obtained by the Washington Post cites a few well known issues safety and financial problems plaguing Metro of a congested roadways researchers say of ...

Civil Engineers. on WJLA-DC (ABC) - Washington, D.C.
01/14/2016 05:16:17
Good Morning Washington @ 5:00
... the report released by a national group of civil engineers evaluates the district's bridges, rails, roads, drinking water, ...
American Society of Civil Engineers. on WRC-DC (NBC) - Washington, D.C.
01/14/2016 06:16:49
News4 Today at 6 (News)
... in d.c. the american society of civil engineers will release its 2014 report card on its infrastructure. the group looks at things like drinking water, waste water, ...

Interview in 2016 by Georgetown University Paper

January 20, 2016: This article is the transcript of an interview by a reporter from Georgetown University paper about the Report Card conducted via email with Ranjit Sahai.

What do you feel are the most valuable aspects of a survey such as this one? Why form it in a “report card” format?

The Report Card for D.C.’s Infrastructure is a standardized assessment of D.C.’s infrastructure against eight relevant criteria. Its key value is in its potential to influence a change in public policy so the downward spiraling trend of infrastructure condition can be reversed. The report card, like a dashboard, is an easy to understand tool for documenting and presenting the outcome of an assessment for both the layman and the expert.

If possible, could you provide more information on how the grades are determined? I have seen on the website that there are a number of factors that go into deciding a grade, but was data collected by surveys, field research, or something of that nature?

The criteria and methodology for determining the grades are documented at this link: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/about-the-report-card/methodology. The data used for the assessments comes from publicly available sources at this link: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/state-facts/sources.

How were the recommendations for change compiled in the survey? Again, did you and your team do field research? How did you examine the structures to see what they needed?

Recommendations provided are based on documented industry best practices for the infrastructure component assessed. The information we used was available public records as reported by infrastructure owners or other reputable organizations.

If you could give any advice to the city government or Washington elected officials on how to solve some of these problems, is there anything else that you would suggest? More funding? Other types of support?

The message the Report Card delivers to our elected officials is to invest adequately on infrastructure to safeguard its vital role to our economy, security, recreation, and safety.

Are there any states or areas that you would suggest that Washington, D.C. look to as a model? Any places where we can learn from their infrastructural progress?

D.C. Infrastructure owners and their consultants have the technical know-how to improve infrastructure grades. The problem is not that their model is broken. The problem is that policy makers who allocate available resources have relegated infrastructure needs low on their priority scale. This approach has over decades starved the maintenance and evolution needs of infrastructure. When D.C. has managed to secure needed resources, it has come through with significant improvements as is evident by the improvement in grades for Bridges, Waste Water, Drinking Water, and others. George Hawkins, the General Manager and CEO of DC Water said it well when he noted that he is proud of D.C.'s Drinking Water and Waste Water's C+ grades as those have climbed up from the earlier D- and are better than the national averages, and that the commitment of the DC Water organization is unwavering in its focus on continuing the climb up the infrastructure grading scale.

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