Thanksgiving is a Good Time to Remind Everyone U.S. Infrastructure is in Bad Shape

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Nov 27 2019 |
A traffic jam on the 91 freeway in Southern California. | Photo by Getty Images

It’s time for another #InfrastructureWeek post!

Hitting the road this holiday weekend? Prepare to sit in traffic.

Hopping on an airplane to visit family and friends? Get ready for long lines.

Traveling by train? It’s going to be crowded (but hey, you might get a meal).

No matter what mode you go by, Thanksgiving travel is notoriously terrible, especially on the Wednesday before the holiday. While there are some things about it we can’t control, like the expected “Bomb Cyclone” expected to hit much of the country this holiday, there is little doubt that things should be much, much better than this.

You know what that means: It’s time to make Thanksgiving Week #InfrastructureWeek!

America’s infrastructure – roads, bridges, airports, passenger rail, light rail, and more — is in bad shape. Like, real bad.

The U.S. aviation sector, which includes our airports, gets a “D” rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). America’s roads also earn a D, while transit systems garner a D-.

The ASCE explains how they pulled together their grades in the video below, but it essentially comes down to years of underinvestment. More Americans than ever are using our roads, trains, transit systems and airports, but federal spending on infrastructure doesn’t even come close to keeping up with what these systems need.

 As ASCE notes, we see the impact of this underinvestment in our daily lives. Americans spend 6.9 BILLION hours delayed in traffic each year, which amounts to about 42 hours per driver. Meanwhile, transit ridership is at its highest level in decades, but transit systems have billions in backlogged needs, leading to problems.

And while today is a particularly busy holiday, ASCE predicts by next year four out of five airports will experience Thanksgiving-level traffic once a week, a surge our airports are woefully unprepared for.

The most frustrating part about this problem is that everybody gets it.

Remember earlier this year? President Trump and House Democrats were all ready to come together to finally tackle this problem. But then politics got in the way.

It wasn’t the first time. Fixing America’s crumbling roads, bridges, airports, and railways (not to mention things like our water systems and pipelines) is one of those things that politicians of all political stripes love to talk about doing but never actually get done. 

In the meantime, the roads get worse. Trains get more crowded. More flights get delayed.

So, if you find yourself struck in traffic, sitting at an airport or stuck waiting for a train this holiday, get some of that frustration out by telling Trump and your Members of Congress to finally get to work on fixing America’s D-rated infrastructure.