National Engineering Group Gives Md. a ‘C’ for Infrastructure

A national engineering group gave Maryland public transit a D- grade. Photo by Hugh Garbrick/Capital News Service

Maryland has made strides in upgrading some of its infrastructure but has lost ground in other areas, a report card from a national group of civil engineers concluded this week.

Getting the state’s transit, water systems, bridges and other aging assets upgraded will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the American Society of Civil Engineers found.

The ASCE gave the state an overall grade of C, a modest improvement from the C- that Maryland received in its 2011 Infrastructure Report Card.

Maryland received its highest marks in bridges (B), aviation (B-), ports (B-) and solid waste (B-).

But the state’s transit system merited a D+, the organization concluded, due largely to its $2 billion maintenance backlog and “aging and outdated infrastructure.”

In most of the other categories that the Maryland section of the ASCE evaluated — including dams, drinking water, energy, rail, roads, stormwater and wastewater — the state earned a C or C-.

While the report notes big improvements in bridge maintenance and repair efforts, the ASCE found that 25% of Maryland’s 5,357 bridges are over 60 years old and are at risk of deterioration due to rising sea levels.

It would cost $623 million to repair the bridges listed in poor condition, the engineers estimated.

The group found that “the Maryland Department of Environment has upgraded outdated stormwater management plan to include innovative solutions and management efforts.”

Nevertheless, “water pollution treatment has not received the necessary funding to combat the decline” in the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are proud that Maryland has made infrastructure a priority and the effects can be felt in our economy,” Carrie Nicholson, P.E., past president of the ASCE Maryland Section and chair of the 2020 Report Card for Maryland’s Infrastructure, said in a statement.

“We can’t allow complacency to set in. Our transit system, dams, drinking water systems and energy grid all require attention. If we want to remain competitive, we need to maintain focus on modernizing the state’s infrastructure.”

In addition to the letter grades, the report also issued a series of recommendations for improving infrastructure.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.