A new report finds the quality of roads, bridges and other infrastructure is deteriorating both in the state and nation, hindering opportunities to compete in the global economy.
Greg DiLoreto, with the American Society of Civil Engineers, says it’s vital to ensure the infrastructure will be improved and restored. Of the state’s 15,000 bridges, some 2,300 need serious work.
“The bridges in Nebraska, about 12.2% are structurally deficient,” DiLoreto says. “That’s higher than the national average and some attention needs to be spent there.”
The crumbling infrastructure is costing the average Nebraskan $350 a year for things like vehicle repairs, wasted gasoline and time spent in traffic.
DiLoreto says reversing the trajectory after decades of underinvestment in infrastructure requires transformative action.
Nebraska has 94,000 miles of public roads and the report says 10-percent of them are in poor condition.
“Nebraska has 141 high-hazard dams,” DiLoreto says. “Those aren’t dams that are going to fail but they are dams that, if they were to fail, there would be a loss of life below them. Of course, they require more maintenance and more inspections to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
While a letter grade wasn’t assigned to Nebraska on the Infrastructure Report Card, he say the nation was given a D+, the same grade as in the last report four years ago.
“We need to make a greater investment in our infrastructure and we need our elected officials to step up and do the things they need to do to put those investments to work and enact the legislation to make it happen,” Diloreto says. “We have to design facilities that are more resilient that will cost us less in the long run.”
Our infrastructure challenges are significant but solvable, he says, through strategic, sustained investment, bold leadership, comprehensive planning, and careful preparation for the needs of the future.