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November 8, 2019 4:00 PM, EST

ASCE to Unveil Puerto Rico Report Card Nov. 12

Damaged roofs in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria Damaged roofs of buildings in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, seen in November 2017. (Carlos Giusti/AP)

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The American Society of Civil Engineers announced it plans to unveil a report card on Nov. 12 on the status of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

The report will issue grades for the island’s bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, ports, roads, solid waste and wastewater. Significant aspects of the island’s infrastructure were damaged severely as a result of two hurricanes in 2017. Known for its tourism industry, Puerto Rico also accommodates military personnel, pharmaceutical companies and a vibrant agriculture sector.

(Update, Nov. 12: The grades are out and Puerto Rico was handed an overall grade of D-.  Read details here.)

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After freight and passenger corridors were struck by hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Texas, congressional policymakers ramped up discussions about climate-resilient infrastructure. Proposals for projects capable of withstanding the impact of severe storms have become a priority for a significant number of Democrats in control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Stronger infrastructure, they argue, would ensure uninterrupted flow of goods and services.

Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, Democrats have met for hearings about the links between infrastructure and human-caused climate change. Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate led the bipartisan approval over the summer of a comprehensive highway measure that included climate-centric provisions.

In 2017, ASCE gave the country’s infrastructure a D+ grade. The group also has urged congressional action on fixing the Highway Trust Fund through a fuel tax increase. The fund is used to assist states with big-ticket projects, but it relies on dwindling revenue from gas and diesel taxes.

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