EDITORIAL: C Isn't Good Enough: Engineers Rank
N.C. Infrastructure Barely Above Nation
Sep 22, 2006 The Charlotte Observer
While the Easley Administration is trying to decide how to
restructure the N. C. Progress Board report cards on how the state
is doing in specific policy areas, North Carolina's civil engineers
have produced their own report on the state's foundations.
It's a sobering report, a timely reminder that a fast-growing
state such as North Carolina must make regular investments in its
transportation facilities, schools, water supplies and even waste
disposal systems. The N. C. Section of the American Society of Civil
Engineers says the state earns a passing grade -- barely -- on eight
of nine areas.
The sole bright spot in the state's infrastructure was rail traffic,
where North Carolina got a B-, the engineers said. The state has
made some investments in rail line upgrades that eventually will
help provide eight daily round-trip passenger trains between
Charlotte and Raleigh as part of the Southeast High Speed Rail
But grades in other areas indicate how much work the state has to
do. The engineers gave the state a C on bridges, drinking water,
schools, stormwater disposal and wastewater disposal, and a D for
airports, dams and roads.
The report -- available online at
-- follows a 2005 nationwide report by the American Society of Civil
Engineers, which gave the nation a cumulative grade of D in 15
infrastructure areas; this state's cumulative grade of C- "shows
that North Carolina cannot support its increasing population" as it
expands to become the eighth largest state in a few years.
"Crumbling infrastructure cannot support a healthy economy," said
Ron Geiger, chairman of the engineers' report committee. Citizens
must "realize how the deteriorating condition of those systems
compromises their ability to support the state's economy and protect
the natural environment that makes North Carolina so attractive. "
Most folks who spend much time in their cars already understand this
point. They know that overcrowded roads and poor maintenance
contribute to accidents, slow traffic and increasing frustration --
and may regard the D as charitable. The report card said only
two-thirds of the state's roads were in good condition, and with
insufficient long-term funding of $29 billion over the next quarter
century to build and maintain roads, the state "lags most other
states in supplying sufficient roads to handle congestion. "
But the grade of C+ on water supplies was only a little better.
The report card said the state must spend up to $3. 4 billion
upgrading drinking and wastewater facilities over five years and
another $4. 5 billion by 2030 to comply with federal clean water
North Carolina's s civil engineers have done our state a favor in
making the assessment of its infrastructure needs and pointing out
the challenges. If they could also point to a way to pay for these
needs, most folks would award them an A.