Assessing America’s Infrastructure Gap

Every four years, ASCE estimates the infrastructure investment needed in each category to maintain a state of good repair and earn a grade of B. 

The most recent analysis reveals that while we’ve made incremental immediate gains in some of the infrastructure categories, our long-term investment gap continues to grow. We’re still just paying about half of our bill – and the total infrastructure investment gap has gone from $2.1 trillion over 10 years to $2.59 trillion.

As ASCE discovered in its 2021 study, Failure to Act: Economic Impacts of Status Quo Investment Across Infrastructure Systems, failing to close this gap will bring serious economic consequences. By 2039, continued underinvestment in our infrastructure at current rates will cost:

  • $10 trillion in GDP
  • More than 3 million jobs in 2039
  • $2.24 trillion in exports over the next 20 years 

When we fail to invest in our infrastructure, we pay the price. Poor roads and airports mean travel times increase. An aging electric grid and inadequate water distribution make utilities unreliable. 

Problems like these translate into higher costs for businesses to manufacture and distribute goods and provide services. These higher costs, in turn, get passed along to workers and families. By 2039, America’s overdue infrastructure bill will cost the average American household $3,300 a year, or $63 a week.

The Breakdown of America’s Infrastructure Investment Gap

When we talk about a disparity between current infrastructure investment and what we need to improve and modernize our systems, it’s helpful to understand the real, live numbers. Here’s just a quick snapshot of how our infrastructure is falling behind in necessary funding:

Investment Gap Between Needs & Funding

Surface Transportation: $1,125 billion

Water/Wastewater/Stormwater: $434 billion

Schools: $380 billion

Electricity: $197 billion

Airports: $111 billion

Dams: $81 billion

Levees: $70 billion

Public Parks/Recreation: $68 billion

Inland Waterways/Marine Ports: $25 billion

Hazardous/Solid Waste: $7 billion

The good news is that closing America’s infrastructure investment gap is possible with big, bold action from Congress, continued financial support from states and localities, and smart investments and management by infrastructure owners.