Last week, the Colorado Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released a report card for Colorado’s infrastructure—the first since 2010 — garnering a C- grade for the state. Baseline Engineering Corporation Division Manager and ASCE Colorado Section President, Kim Swearingen, PE, MBA, attended and emceed the Infrastructure Report Card release on January 30, 2020 at the Colorado State Capitol and participated in a question and answer session.
The report card graded all facets of Colorado Infrastructure from A to F based on a set of national criteria and provides Coloradans with an objective view of our infrastructure that can be compared to the national report card. Twenty-eight professional civil engineers with expertise in all categories, including Baseline’s Kim Swearingen, come together every four years to grade the national infrastructure and have developed the criteria by assessing relevant data and reports and consulting with technical and industry experts.
The criteria include capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Each of these elements encompass the questions that are necessary to evaluate any type of infrastructure: how well it can meet the needs for the current and future demands, how is the infrastructure performing and holding up, is there sufficient funding to meet the estimated need and are future funding prospects able to meet that need, how safe is this infrastructure for the public, can the infrastructure prevent or protect against multi-hazard threats, how quickly can it recover and what are the impacts of that recovery, and finally how innovative is the infrastructure. After evaluating different sectors of the infrastructure based on those questions and criteria, each sector is given a grade: A, for infrastructure that is generally in excellent condition; new or rehabilitated; easily meets the needs for the future, B, for infrastructure that is in good to excellent condition; some elements show signs of deterioration; minimal risk and capacity concerns, C, for infrastructure that is in fair to good condition; general signs of deterioration that require attention; some concerning deficiencies with increasing risk, D, for infrastructure in poor to fair condition; many elements are approaching the end of life; significant deterioration with strong risk of failure, and an F for infrastructure that is in unacceptable condition; advanced deterioration; imminent failure risk. Our nation’s overall grade as of 2017 was a D+.
The Colorado Section of ASCE determined our overall grade to be a C- based on the national criteria. The state received a B in the aviation category, a B+ for our rail system, a C for our parks, a C+ in the bridge, dam, and energy categories, a C- for our drinking water, roads, transit system, hazardous waste, wastewater, and solid waste systems, and a D+ for our levees and schools.
While these numbers are concerning, Colorado saw an improvement in five categories from 2010, as well as encouraging progress. We have kept up with road maintenance above the average rate despite being under-funded. Our bridges have had better maintenance and improvements over the national average, and Colorado has become a leader in bridge innovation. Finally, Colorado policymakers have increased the production of renewable energy through new legislation that will ultimately increase our grid resiliency. These improvements are a great first step but the report card shows that there is still significant work ahead to improve and protect our future infrastructure. Baseline Engineering Corporation, along with the other engineering firms of Colorado, is excited to be a partner to Colorado and create a lasting and resilient infrastructure for the state.
Dedicated to promoting infrastructure improvement, Kim Swearingen also spoke in Pueblo on December 20, 2019 for a better infrastructure package, “We are fortunate to live where we do, but Colorado comes with challenges,” said Kim Swearingen, ASCE Colorado Section President. “We’re a large state, divided by a major mountain range. Investment in road, bridge, and rail projects that connect population centers will better enable the movement of goods and people. These projects are of regional and even national significance, and a strong federal partner to see them across the finish line will help our economic competitiveness and improve our quality of life.”
“At Baseline, we believe in our employees’ ability to make a difference. We are problem-solvers at heart and we look forward to being part of the solution to improve the infrastructure that is so vital to our economy and our everyday lives,” said Matt Tyburski, CPA, Baseline Engineering Corporation Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
As a result of the report card, Colorado Governor Jared Polis declared January 30th as Infrastructure Awareness Day.
To see the entire report card, click here.