Civil Engineers Give Ohio a “C-“ and Texas a “C” in Latest 2021 Infrastructure Report Cards

By Brianna Rodriguez, Digital Editor

The latest 2021 infrastructure report cards for Ohio and Texas have been released. Both reports show a significant need for infrastructure improvement in both states.

The Ohio Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unveiled its 2021 Report Card for Ohio’s Infrastructure, 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 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.

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. 

Texas received an overall rating of a “C” which was not much better than Ohio. Texas civil engineers gave 12 categories of infrastructure an overall grade of a ‘C,’ meaning the state’s infrastructure is in mediocre condition. This is an improvement from the ‘C-‘ the state received in its 2017 report.

As the 9th largest economy in the word, Texas infrastructure is crucial to the economy. Energy infrastructure systems have received significant attention, with Texas emerging as a leader in renewable energy production, meeting demands as the population continues to grow. Conversely, the wastewater and levee networks need additional support as the population grows and to withstand increased severe weather events. Civil engineers graded aviation (B-), bridges (B-), dams (D+), drinking water (C-), energy (B+), flood risk mitigation (C-), levees (D), public parks & recreation (C-), highways & roads (D+), solid waste (B), transit (B-) and wastewater (D).

Energy infrastructure received the highest grade of a ‘B+,’ with advancements in oil and gas infrastructure helping maintain the state’s stellar reputation as a leading energy producer and provider. The equivalent of the ninth-largest economy in the world, Texas leads the U.S. in oil and gas energy production at more than a fifth of nationally produced energy. The state has experienced dramatic growth of oil production in recent years, from 1 million barrels per day in 2011 to over 5.4 million barrels per day in 2019. Texas is also the leading wind power generator in the nation.

There were several notable successes among the transportation sector as well. The Lone Star State has done well to accommodate significant population growth through meaningful attention to its aviation (B-), bridges (B-) and transit (B-) sectors.

Texas is a critical aviation hub for the nation’s domestic and international passenger travel and air freight—boarding 90 million passengers and moving 5.8 million tons of cargo in 2019 alone. Providing 1.1 million jobs and contributing $41.8 billion to local payrolls, the aviation industry delivers an overall economic impact of $130 billion to the state’s economy.

On the ground, Texas maintains the largest bridge inventory in the nation at nearly 57,000 bridge structures with an astounding 737 million vehicle crossings a day. Despite significant usage, Texas’ network boasts the smallest percentage (1.3%) of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. In 2018, TxDOT classified 82% of bridges as “good” condition or better, and zero crashes occurred due to poor bridge conditions. Public transportation continues to experience significant innovations, including Austin Cap Metro’s recently approved $7 billion program known as Project Connect, which will add Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit. 

Visit the ASCE's website for the full report cards.

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