Sandy highlights fragile infrastructure While even the newest and sturdiest power lines, bridges and roads may not have stood up to the force of superstorm Sandy, the disaster highlights - at least it should - an issue that has received little attention during this election season: the parlous state of America's infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave an overall grade of D to the nation's infrastructure in 2009, ranging from a D-minus for roads, waterways and levees, to D-plus for energy transmission and C for bridges. Maintaining existing investment levels in transportation will result in a $3.1 trillion loss in gross domestic product by 2020, the civil engineers society warned in a report last year. President Obama's American Jobs Act, which got blocked in Congress, sets aside $85 billion for school building improvements; road, rail, mass transit and airport upgrades; and $10 billion for an infrastructure bank, leveraging private and public capital. "The degree of reaction to Sandy will depend on a lot of things, not the least of which are ongoing budget challenges, coupled with a federal government rethinking its role in an age of fiscal constraint," said Robert Puentes, director of the Brookings Institution's infrastructure policy program.