Pennsylvania’s infrastructure receives a C rating

The American Society of Civil Engineers discloses the condition and performance of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure every four years. That year, the state system received an overall grade of C-. The certificate covers 15 infrastructure categories: aviation, bridges, dams, potable water, energy, hazardous waste, levees, parks, ports, rail, roads, solid waste, stormwater, transit and sewage.

Lehigh’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering worked with the Lehigh Valley Section of the Society to hold a press conference at the Fritz Engineering Laboratory on November 15 to announce and discuss the results.

The American Society of Civil Engineers hosted an event for the Lehigh Valley where they released Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure Testimony on November 15. It took place at the Fritz Laboratory on the Lehigh University campus. (Jinshan Tu/B&W Staff)

At the conference, John Caperilla, past President of the Society, announced the performance results and discussed areas of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure that need more attention and investment.

Caperilla said that Pennsylvania’s wastewater received the lowest grade in the report, a D-.

“The median age of most sewer systems (in Pennsylvania) is approaching 75 years, with many records being over 100 years old,” Caperilla said. “The city of Philadelphia is using green and great infrastructure to address this issue. However, the entire state needs to do more to eliminate this health risk.”

Caperilla raised concerns about the state of the state, including the presence of PFAs in Pennsylvania water, during the conference. PFAs are a group of manufactured chemicals that are components of various everyday products that can cause certain types of cancer and other serious diseases.

“Approximately one-third of Pennsylvania’s drinking water systems have been tested for PFAs and found to have a count higher than that of the EPA supervisor,” Caperilla said.

Shamim Pakzad, chair of Lehigh’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said Pennsylvania’s primary need to invest in resources is to improve infrastructure.

Pakzad said an infrastructure law passed a few months ago provides money for improvements, but resources must be directed to the places that need the most attention.

“I think it’s important that these resources are placed in the right places and the best way is found to use these resources,” Pakzad said. “They will always be chasing dollars because we will never have enough dollars to do everything. The smart way to do all of this is to figure out where the dollars would make the biggest difference.”

Individuals gather at the Fritz Laboratory on November 15 for a meeting hosted by the PA Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The event presented a certificate of 15 categories of government infrastructure. (Jinshan Tu/B&W Staff)

Lehigh’s Department of Civil Engineering is working to identify key areas of need and establish some repair and design best practices to ensure the resilience of the school’s infrastructure, Pakzad said.

Farrah Moazeni, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lehigh, addressed the interconnectedness of critical infrastructure systems and the implications of academia-industry-government partnerships.

Moazeni said her academic research proposes solutions to improve the energy efficiency of modern water systems and explores different methods to leverage the interactions with critical infrastructure to improve operations.

“Fortunately we have a center in Lehigh that is called I-CPIEInstitute for Cyber ​​Physical Infrastructure and Energy, where more than 90 faculty members come together to conduct multidisciplinary research,” Moazeni said.

Moazeni said critical infrastructure systems like water, power, natural gas and transportation are showing signs of being interconnected, which can both help and harm our infrastructure.

Ralph Eberhardt, Chair of the Lehigh Valley Transportation Committee, spoke at the conference on the Greater Lehigh Valley of Commerce’s mission to improve transportation infrastructure in the Lehigh Valley. He said their mission includes better understanding of the issues and increasing advocacy for understanding the community at the local, state and federal levels.

“The committee recognizes that the economic vitality of regional businesses and the mobility of Lehigh Valley citizens depend on safe, equitable, sustainable and efficient transportation infrastructure,” said Eberhardt.

In 2014 and 2018, the Pennsylvania infrastructure report card reflected the same overall grade, a C-.

Pakzad said people are constantly surrounded by and dependent on infrastructure.

“One cannot overestimate the impact of a well-functioning infrastructure on a citizen’s life,” Pakzad said.