America relies on a vast network of infrastructure — airports, roads, bridges, freight rail, ports and electric grids — to keep the $18 trillion economy humming. But many of the systems currently in place were built decades ago, and economists say delays and rising maintenance and safety costs are now inhibiting our nation's economic performance. It's an issue that President Donald Trump has set his sights on with a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan to address the crisis. He believes infrastructure modernization would have a multiplier effect. Global consulting firm McKinsey estimates that increasing U.S. infrastructure spending by 1 percent of GDP would add 1.5 million jobs to the economy.
“Today every American family is losing about $3,400 a year in disposable income due to poor infrastructure,” said Greg DiLoreto, past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is talking about auto repairs, gasoline for the time you spend stuck in traffic, bottled water during an outage — the list goes on.
Infrastructure is important to business, too, which is why it is among the most important categories in CNBC’s exclusive America’s Top States for Business study, worth 400 out of 2,500 points. We use government data to evaluate each state’s roads, bridges, ports, airports, rail networks and utilities.
While some states are finding ways around the crisis, others can only shrug each time a White House Infrastructure Week comes and goes.
Here are America’s 10 worst trouble spots.
If ever there was a state that could benefit from better infrastructure, it is the Magnolia State. The state has one of the most important stretches of its namesake river, as well as a key Gulf Coast port. Its roads and rails provide key links to the rest of the South. But as it does in so many measures of competitiveness, Mississippi falls short here. The state lags its Gulf Coast neighbors in the value of commodities shipped. Roads and bridges are in bad shape, and air travel options are limited.
2018 Infrastructure score: 172 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D+)
Deficient bridges: 11.8 percent
Average commute to work: 24.3 minutes (U.S. Average: 25.7 minutes)
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 51 percent
20-year water-system needs: $4.8 billion
One of the few things holding the Bay State back from true Top State status is its infrastructure. It also holds back commuters, who spend an inordinate amount of time just getting to and from work. Massachusetts has made some strides maintaining its roads and bridges, but all too often the 230-year-old state shows its age, particularly when it comes to water utilities.
2018 Infrastructure score: 168 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D+)
Deficient bridges: 9.3 percent
Average commute to work: 29.6 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 42 percent
20-year water-system needs: $12.2 billion
Anyone who has sat in New Jersey traffic can tell you the infrastructure in the Garden State is not good. Home to bedroom communities for New York City in the north and Philadelphia in the south — not to mention an economic engine in its own right — New Jersey’s transportation system has more than its share of stress, just as its commuters do. The state is working to address the situation by reconfiguring its historically low gasoline taxes, helping to fund a new state infrastructure bank offering low-interest loans for local projects. But so far, it is just a drop in the bucket. A jarring two-thirds of the state’s roads are in mediocre condition or worse.
2018 Infrastructure score: 164 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D+)
Deficient bridges: 8.8 percent
Average commute to work: 31.7 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 66 percent
20-year water-system needs: $8.6 billion
If New Jersey is on this list, you know New York cannot be far behind. That is despite several very visible infrastructure projects taking shape in the Empire State. They include the new Mario Cuomo Bridge replacing the aging Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River in the New York suburbs, $27 billion in upstate road and bridge repairs and a complete rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport. But at least until those projects are done, New York’s infrastructure is a mess. New Yorkers’ commutes are the longest in the nation. And for all the shiny new projects for all to see, there is a mess underground, and we aren’t talking just about the subway. Water utilities need serious help.
2018 Infrastructure score: 158 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)
Deficient bridges: 10.5 percent
Average commute to work: 33.4 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 60 percent
20-year water-system needs: $22.8 billion
The Old Line State is in the heart of one of America’s most economically robust regions. But Maryland’s infrastructure is ill-equipped to handle the activity. In Baltimore, water main breaks remain a daily occurrence. And both greater Baltimore and the U.S. Capital region are perpetually choked by traffic. Gov. Larry Hogan has been pushing a $9 billion highway upgrade package financed largely by tolls. Whatever the state does to pay for the improvements, Maryland needs help. So do its workers, who endure the second-longest commutes in the nation.
2018 Infrastructure score: 157 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)
Deficient bridges: 5.6 percent
Average commute to work: 32.8 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 55 percent
20-year water-system needs: $9.3 billion
The most rural state on this list, West Virginia has a hard time catching a break. The Mountain State’s economy has improved somewhat in the past year, thanks to an increase in coal production, but state forecasters say that is unlikely to last. Trade tensions with China are threatening to derail a major investment in the state by a Chinese energy company. And all the while, the state’s troubled infrastructure keeps falling further behind. The state’s bridges are in dismal shape with one-fifth deemed structurally deficient. Air travel options are limited.
2018 Infrastructure score: 157 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)
Deficient bridges: 19 percent
Average commute to work: 25.4 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 47 percent
20-year water-system needs: $2.3 billion
The infrastructure situation in the Nutmeg State is so bad, you could say Connecticut is moving backward. With the state facing a fiscal crisis, Gov. Dannel Malloy had to cancel $4.5 billion in transportation projects last year, proposing instead to restore tolls to the state’s highways for the first time in more than 30 years. That idea, so far, has gone nowhere. As politicians continue to debate, Connecticut roads continue to deteriorate. With nearly three-quarters in poor or mediocre condition, they are in the second worst shape in the nation behind Illinois.
2018 Infrastructure score: 150 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D)
Deficient bridges: 7.8 percent
Average commute to work: 26.3 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 73 percent
20-year water-system needs: $4 billion
The stereotypical New Englander says, “You can’t get there from here.” In Maine he might really mean it. While the state’s busiest airport, Portland International Jetport, marked a record year in 2017, it offers year-round nonstop flights to only 10 destinations. Granted, the Pine Tree State is known more for lobsters, blueberries and rugged natural beauty than it is for its infrastructure — and that’s how they like it. Still, the state’s bridges are in disrepair, and its freight rail network is in the bottom five for tonnage carried. But commuting is a breeze, and water utilities are in fine shape.
2018 Infrastructure score: 140 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: D-)
Deficient bridges: 13.3 percent
Average commute to work: 23.9 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 53 percent
20-year water-system needs: $1.3 billion
Another New England state with infrastructure problems is the Granite State. Compounding the stress on New Hampshire’s beleaguered roads is that two of the state’s counties are part of the Boston metropolitan area. That helps explain the long average commutes in the state, and the poor state, overall, of New Hampshire’s roads and bridges. But issues extend to the rest of the state, including limited air and rail facilities.
2018 Infrastructure score: 123 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: F)
Deficient bridges: 10.9 percent
Average commute to work: 26.9 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 54 percent
20-year water-system needs: $1.9 billion
As America’s smallest state, Rhode Island is at a natural disadvantage in any national infrastructure ranking. But some of the Ocean State’s problems are of its own making. After all, with only 778 bridges — compared to more than 50,000 in Texas — transportation planners in Rhode Island have comparatively little to worry about. But nearly one-quarter of those bridges are structurally deficient — by far, the worst in the nation. Rhode Island is trying to tackle the problem with RhodeWorks, a sweeping, $5 billion overhaul of the state’s transportation system passed in 2016. But these things take time. The program’s goal is to get Rhode Island’s infrastructure into shape by 2025.
2018 Infrastructure score: 100 out of 400 points (Top States Grade: F)
Deficient bridges: 23.2 percent
Average commute to work: 24.8 minutes
Roads in poor or mediocre condition: 70 percent
20-year water-system needs: $1.7 billion