A new report on the condition of Nebraska’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure finds the state will have to spend billions in the next 20 years just to keep up with needed repairs.
Gregory DiLoreto, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, says investing in infrastructure is essential to support healthy, vibrant communities as well as long-term economic growth.
“We grade 16 categories of infrastructure,” DeLoreto says. “That would include roads and bridges, transit and rail, drinking water, waste water, levees, dams, schools, parks and rec and so forth.”
He says spending on infrastructure is critical for categories from employment to exports. DeLoreto says the reverse is also true — without prioritizing infrastructure needs, deteriorating conditions can become a drag on the economy.
“There is a direct link between our economic success in this country and our quality of life and our infrastructure,” DeLoreto says. “By making this investment, we can improve our economic conditions and we can retain and create jobs as well.”
The report finds nearly 2,800 Nebraska bridges are structurally deficient.
“For Nebraska, we have a report of nearly $5-billion in water infrastructure and waste water needs over the next 20 years,” DeLoreto says. “In terms of roads, almost 60% of Nebraska’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Those repair and operating costs are about $280 (per year) in Nebraska.”
That money could be better used to repair and maintain roads, he says, which would help to reduce congestion and improve conditions. While letter grades were not given for individual states, the report gave the nation’s infrastructure a D-plus, up slightly from a solid D in 2009.