Pennsylvania infrastructure barely gets passing grade in new review

Bob Wright ASCE gives infrastructure report card. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Bob Wright ASCE gives infrastructure report card. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Pennsylvania’s infrastructure received a “C-” in the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers.  The grading is designed to highlight where infrastructure needs are not being met in hopes of securing funding to make repairs.

ASCE’s Bob Wright said this is one report card people should be worried about.

“Our state is home to a rapidly aging infrastructure network and increasingly severe weather events, which put significant strain on our built environment,” he said. “We rely on the infrastructure to stand up to these strains and threats so the residents can feel safe and our communities can prosper.”

Wright believes if this was a report card he brought home to his parents, he would have been in trouble, and so is Pennsylvania’s crumbling infrastructure.

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“It’s a ‘C-’, not the best grade in the world. Again, that means our infrastructure is in a mediocre condition and we require some attention. The cumulative grade is reflective of the data available to us. And with so much growth and new projects throughout the state could surely improve if we keep our foot on the gas.”

SEPTA general manager Leslie Richards said the whole reason for their crumbling infrastructure and “D” grade is a lack of money.

“We have stayed steady since 2018 which means that we have not fallen farther behind in our state of good repair. Our teams are working and planning tirelessly to keep the system in a state of good repair with the resources that we have.”

Federal spending will add $100 million a year to SEPTA’s capital budget for the next five years, but that’s nowhere near the money necessary to bring all the structures back to perfect condition.

Richards believes they are in need of $4 billion to get ahead on just routine maintenance and repairs. She says while transit agencies in other parts of the country get local matching funds for their capital work, SEPTA doesn’t. She’s hopeful a new legislature will change that next year so they can be competitive in the bid process.

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