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November 08, 2012

Texas roads get a 'D' on report card, but other infrastructure scores better

Reportcardtx2012@gdickson

FORT WORTH - It's not the kind of report card a good student would want to show mom and dad.

The quality of Texas roads and highways scored a woeful grade of 'D' on a report card issued Thursday by the Texas section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The group periodically puts out a report card, assigning letter grades to the state's infrastructure, including energy, waterways and waste.

Overall, Texas averaged a C on 12 categories of infrastructure, including roads.

Not good. In fact, if a Texas high school kid brought home those grades, he or she might not be allowed to suit up for football or volleyball this weekend.

But, on the bright side, Texas is faring better than the national average - a 'D.'

The report card is the American Society of Civil Engineers' way of delivering their technical knowledge about infrastructure to a mass audience. It's an update of a Texas report card published in 2008.

"This is complex data," Randall Over, ASCE president-elect, said Thursday during a news conference at the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth hotel, where the Texas section was holding a four-day conference. "A lot of people don't know the difference between a 'high-hazard dam' and a 'significant hazard dam.' They just hear the word hazard and they know it's bad. Thus, this report card was born. Everyone know a report card grade."

The roads fared so poorly because of a lack of maintenance planning and long-term funding. Texas now ranks 43rd among the states in road spending per capita, compared to 17th in 2008, according to background material provided with the report card.

Other findings:

  • Drinking water got a grade of D-minus. That's not a testiment to the quality of the water; rather, it speaks to the lack of availability of drinking water supplies statewide after years of drought, said David Calabuig of Austin, who helped craft the report card.
  • Solid waste improved from a B to B-plus. Because of the availability of recycling and other factors, the amount of waste disposed per person has been reduced to 6.2 pounds per day, compared to 6.5 pounds four years ago.
  • Bridges scored a B-minus. Texas has made progress in repairing crumbling bridges. However, 10,137 bridges are still considered non-sufficient or load-restricted, and the number is expected to rise over the next decade.

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