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Letter: We must fix Pennsylvania’s ailing infrastructure systems

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Given the close connections between our nation's infrastructure, the country's economic vitality and our overall quality of life as citizens of this great country, the issuance of ASCE's National Infrastructure Report Card March 19, and the grades reflected therein, is cause for alarm.

Although ASCE's next Pennsylvania Infrastructure Report Card will not be published until 2014, indications are that the overall condition of Pennsylvania's infrastructure is well short of where we need it to be for job growth and our continued safety. The report card gives Pennsylvania an overall score of C- for infrastructure quality and an overall score of D- nationwide. (The full report card can be found at www.infrastructurereportcard.org).

If we don't fix our ailing systems, we will all lose.

Examples from the report card:

• Of the 22,669 bridges in Pennsylvania, 5,540 (24.4 percent) are considered structurally deficient, and 4,370 (19.3 percent) are considered functionally obsolete.

• Pennsylvania has reported $11.4 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs and $17.9 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. Without these investments, our water infrastructure will suffer, hurting our communities and quality of life.

• Nationally, if we continue with current investment trends, aging and unreliable infrastructure will cost the average family $28,000 in income by the year 2020.

Gov. Corbett's recently proposed transportation funding legislation is a major step toward addressing many of Pennsylvania's needs and promoting our economic vitality. However, we as citizens must do what we can to ensure the passage of the governor's proposed legislation, while seeking out similar measures to address the shortcomings in the 16 categories of Pennsylvania's infrastructure concerns, including water, and sanitary distribution and collection systems.

Future generations are counting on us!

—Robert H. Kalbach III

Central PA Legislative Chair

American Society of Civil Engineers

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