2010 Report Card for Metropolitan Louisville's Infrastructure

Civil engineers have the task of ensuring that the lights will turn on; roads will carry us safely to our destination; and clean water is available when we turn on our faucets.

Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 146,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. ASCE released its 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure in January 2009. The Report Card assigned the nation’s infrastructure a cumulative grade of D and estimated a five-year investment need of $2.2 trillion. The Report Card evaluated 15 infrastructure categories, including aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, public parks and recreation, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, transit and wastewater. It assigned grades to the different areas of infrastructure similar to a school report card that assigns grades by subject.

The Louisville Branch of the Kentucky Section of ASCE and the Southwest Indiana Branch of ASCE took on the task of preparing a similar report for infrastructure in the Louisville metro area. Twelve civil engineers served on the Kentuckiana (Louisville Metro) Infrastructure Report Card (KIRC) Committee. It is not the intention of this Report Card to assign blame to any group for any infrastructure area that has earned a low grade. The purpose of this report is to document the findings and evaluations of the condition of the region’s infrastructure systems and bring public attention to the need for investing in our infrastructure.

In issuing grades, the KIRC Committee used a grading system based on percentages since much of infrastructure data is reported in percentages. Grades have been assessed based on the percentages of infrastructure in good condition or better using the following scale:

A = 90 – 100% (Exceptional)

B = 80 – 89% (Good)

C = 70 – 79% (Fair)

D = 41 – 69% (Poor)

F = 40% or lower (Inadequate)

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What you Can do.

It is evident that much more needs to be done to ensure that Kentuckiana’s infrastructure can support current and future public demands. There are many steps that you, as an individual, can do to help improve our infrastructure. As outlined in the ASCE Renewing America’s Infrastructure: A Citizens Guide

Be an informed citizen. Learn about your community’s infrastructure needs. Get to know your legislative representatives and discuss your concerns with them.

Demand continuous maintenance. If roads, bridges and other infrastructure systems are not maintained, they cannot support the level of service they were originally designed to handle. Regular maintenance prolongs life and minimizes the need for costly repairs.

Think long-term. Renewing the region’s infrastructure is an ambitious goal and cannot be accomplished overnight. Furthermore, the facilities built today must last for decades to come.

Comprehensive planning and long-term investments are keys to sound decision making. It is imperative that we realize that infrastructure is a public asset and we all have a stake in its upkeep and operation. We all share in the cost of capital investments and maintenance. We need to treat infrastructure as an investment and demand the best returns.