By the Numbers: U.S. Infrastructure


The percentage of gross domestic product the U.S. spends on infrastructure, compared to 5 percent by European countries.


The 2016 U.S. ranking by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report in a broad measure of infrastructure quality, down from fifth place in 2002. That places it behind countries such as France, Germany, Japan and Spain.


The U.S. ranking worldwide in broadband coverage, according to the World Economic Forum. At the same time, Americans pay more than Europeans and receive slower internet speeds. Some analysts attribute this to the lack of competition in most U.S. markets, which are often served by only one internet provider.


The percentage of U.S. public infrastructure funding that comes from the federal government. That is down from a peak of 38 percent in 1977, leaving often cash-strapped local governments to bear more of the costs of investment and maintenance.


The number of hydropower generating facilities owned by the federal government.


The number of major lakes and reservoirs owned by the federal government.


The number of dams in the U.S.


The number of public transit agencies that receive federal assistance.


The number of waterways maintained by the United States that lead to coastal, Great Lakes and inland harbors.


The miles of levees in the U.S.


The year the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) was created, to fund the nation’s interstate highway system. It remains Washington’s primary mechanism for funding transportation infrastructure through direct grants to states. The HTF raises money through the gas tax and other transportation-related taxes, and spends it on roads and highways (about 80 percent) as well as mass transit projects (about 20 percent). Analysts say the HTF is facing insolvency, and that without a rise in the gas tax (which has not been increased for more than two decades) or other additional funding sources, it could run out of money as soon as 2021.


The number of civilian airports in the U.S.


The number of miles of freight rail in the U.S.

4 million

The miles of roads in the U.S.

362 million

The square feet of space maintained by the General Services Administration, the independent federal agency that manages and supports the basic functioning of federal agencies.

$120 billion

The estimated annual cost to the economy caused by traffic congestion.

$150 billion

The amount researchers say will be needed per year between 2017 and 2030 to keep abreast of all the country’s infrastructure needs.

$632 billion

The amount the Environmental Protection Agency estimates will be needed in the next decade for drinking water, wastewater and irrigation systems.

$800 billion

The amount the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates is required just to shore up the nation’s roads and bridges.

$1.5 trillion

The amount the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates is needed to fill the “infrastructure gap” by 2025.

Source:  Council on Foreign Relations, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, American Society of Civil Engineers, The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure by Henry Petroski

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