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Retooling Transportation Upgrades and attitudes drive an uncertain future By Linda Mastaglio Moving into the heart of 2012, transportation continues to be a major issue in the United States. While the U.S. slowly recovers from the long and difficult economic downturn, governments at all levels are struggling with decreased revenue and, in many cases, increased demands. As a result, infrastructure and transportation needs continue to fight for necessary funding. The federal government is attempting to put together a long-term transportation bill, while state and local governments do their best to keep the current system as well-maintained as possible.
A worker inspects the Fred Hartman cable-stayed bridge in Baytown, Texas. PHOTO BY Keith Philpott Photography Courtesy of HDR
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The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) has joined with Caltrans to oversee construction work on the Eastern span replacement of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, scheduled to open in 2013.
Photo courtesy of CalTrans
Transportation and the Funding Imperative Nationally, progress on a multi-year transportation bill continues in fits and starts. The beginning of 2012 saw some progress and optimism for a new bill, but that has recently given way to more delays. There was good news early in the year as a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill was signed into law. At the state level, the stimulus funds are drying up and many local governments are cutting costs, resulting in greater delays on scheduled transportation system improvements. As a result, some states now look to increase dedicated revenue sources for transportation projects.
bridge-construction market is expected to contract 6%, from a predicted $77 billion in 2011 to $72.6 billion this year. On the good news side, the railroad market is expected to increase by nearly 4% and construction on ports and waterways will increase about 6%. “The main factors driving the decline in highway and bridge construction are not surprising: the winding down of infrastructure investment under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), continued weak growth in the U.S. economy, persistent state and local budget challenges, and a static federalaid highway program,” said Black.
Regional Funding Challenges
The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released its 2012 Transportation Forecast at the end of 2011. “There is good news and bad news for 2012 depending on the mode of transportation,” noted ARTBA senior economist Alison Premo Black, during a presentation to analysts and executives. Overall the highway- and
At the state level, transportation funding continues to be complex challenge. While most states are reducing or merely maintaining the amount they are allocating towards transportation projects, there are a few where spending is rising. ARTBA’s 2012 forecast predicts increased spending in 18 states for transportation projects, while 24 will see
decreases and the rest will be relatively flat. “I think it will be a mixed bag across the states in 2012—as it usually is— with regard to transportation funding,” says Sean Slone, senior transportation policy analyst at The Council of State Governments. In recent years, the aging infrastructure across the country has become a hot-button issue with no easy solutions. Multiple studies and reports, undertaken by a variety of groups and organizations, have been released over the past several years detailing the country’s infrastructure needs. While economists may dispute some of those figures, there is no question that there is an ongoing need for major infrastructure spending in the coming years. Using publicly available data, TRIP, a national transportation research group, put together a basic fact sheet for roads and bridges. This information indicates that 32% of major roads in the country are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on roads that are in need of repair costs U.S. motorists some $67
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billion a year in repairs and operating expenses. Additionally, 24% of bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete—yet the number of vehicles on the roads continues its upward climb. Population in the U.S. grew 23% from 1990 to 2009 and vehicle travel increased by 39% during that same time frame.
Looking forward, one of the top transportation issues for the country is the passage of a new multi-year transportation bill. The last major piece of transportation legislation—the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEALU)—was signed into law in 2005 and was scheduled to expire in 2009. Since then there have been eight short-term extensions of this act, with the latest expiring on March 31, 2012. A wide range of prominent groups and businesses have pointed to a new transportation bill as a major objective for 2012. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) listed passage of the new transportation bill as its top transportation topic for 2012. “Enactment of a bill is a significant priority for state departments of transportation and the industry as a whole,” says AASHTO executive director John Horsley. “We know that transportation has both short-term and long-term benefits for our country— immediate job creation that fixes real problems facing drivers every day and benefits that also create stronger economic development opportunities while promoting a better quality of life in our communities. In 2012, let’s finish the job!” The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has stressed the need for increased infrastructure spending across the board and has issued its own national report card as well as proposed solutions. Its most recent economic report on surface transportation was released in July 2011, and it documented that deteriorating infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 876,000 jobs and suppress the growth in GDP by $897 billion by the year 2020. “Clearly, failing to invest in our roads, bridges and transit systems has a dramatic negative impact on America’s economy,” says Kathy Caldwell, P.E.,
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The $3.1-billion construction project on Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, SR 99, involves replacing the old viaduct with a new tunnel and elevated road. F.ASCE, and president of ASCE. “The link between a nation’s infrastructure and its economic competitiveness has always been understood. But today, for the first time, we have data showing how much failing to invest in our surface transportation system can negatively impact job growth and family budgets.”
A Comparison of the 2013 Transportation Bills
President Obama, the House and the Senate have all put forth different versions of a new transportation funding bill with major differences in outlays and programs. President Obama’s FY 2013 budget includes a recommendation for a
six-year surface transportation reauthorization totaling $476 billion. The proposal shifts the ratio of spending on highways vs. transit and rail to 75%/25% from the current formula of 80%/20%. It also allocates a total of $47 billion over six years for high-speed rail and includes $2.2 billion to begin or advance construction of 29 major rail and bus rapid-transportation projects in 15 states. Advocating for the President’s program, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that “A strong American economy depends on the roadways, runways and railways that move people and goods from coast to coast and around the globe.” [ Continued on Page T 7 ]
Photo courtesy of Washington State Dept. of Transportation
What Drives the Future?
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Photo courtesy of Port of Miami
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The key issue facing any transportation bill is how to fund it. The Congressional Budget Office released a report in January of this year indicating that, at current spending levels, the federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money by the end of FY 2014. The Senate version of the transportation bill is entitled the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), S-1813. This two-year bill, introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, provides $109 billion in funding through FY 2013, maintaining current funding and programs over the next two years. MAP-21 seeks to streamline the federal transportation process by reducing the number of core highway programs to five (from seven) and consolidating 87 programs under SAFETEA-LU to approximately 30. The House version of the transportation bill is entitled the
The $1-billion Port of Miami Tunnel construction project began boring the first of two tunnels on Watson Island, Miami, last fall. The tunnel is expected to be completed by 2014.
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American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012, HR-7. This bill is being shepherded by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Florida) and is a fiveyear, $260-billion bill. HR-7 reduces transportation-project spending by 34%, limiting the total amount allocated to projected revenues from the Highway Trust Fund plus some increased revenue from other sources. HR-7 stalled in the House in February, at which point several ideas were floated, including breaking it into three separate parts in an attempt to move it through that body.
More than four years after the previous FAA reauthorization expired, President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act in February 2012. This legislation, which comes after 23 shortterm extensions, authorizes $64 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration through Fiscal Year 2015. “From the start, our goal was preserving the safest, most efficient and modern aviation system in the world,” Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), chairman of the Senate
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a statement. “And we know a healthy and growing aviation industry is fundamentally important for the economic future of our country. I’m proud that Congress has passed comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that will support jobs and consumers.” The final FAA Authorization Bill includes the following provisions: • Funds safety programs, NextGen air-traffic-control modernization and FAA operations through FY 2015 • Creates and supports jobs by providing stable funding for airport improvements under the Airport Improvement Program • Provides $13.4 billion for the Airport Improvement program; $38.3 billion for FAA operations; $672 million for research, engineering and development; and $10.9 billion for FAA’s Facilities and Equipment Account • Streamlines environmental reviews for new, more efficient flight paths • Reforms union election procedures of the National Mediation Board • Eliminates some subsidies within the Essential Air Service program
• Enacts passenger protections to ensure airline passengers are treated fairly when traveling Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, noted that “By making this four-year legislation the law of the land, Congress and the administration have instilled a certain level of confidence into the psyche of businesses that are part of America’s aviation sector.” The law provides a blueprint for the Next Generation Air Traffic Control system (NextGen) with benchmarks and performance goals. Kavinoky also commented that the challenge to the administration is to “make and stick with decisions around technology, modernize its processes and procedures, and adhere to a timeline for delivering benefits.” The FAA reauthorization offers a start for addressing the country’s critical transportation needs. How the transportation bill plays out and how governments at all levels deal with revenue shortfalls are yet to be determined and will go a long way toward shaping the future state of the nation’s infrastructure. n
The Alabama Dept. of Transportation (ALDOT) invested in three EarthCam TrailerCam units to monitor traffic conditions, road closures and construction throughout the state. The cameras, purchased in 2011, have been used in various capacities, from monitoring construction at a sink hole to observing traffic conditions as fans jammed the highways
when exiting the famous Talladega 500 NASCAR race. The cameras are mounted on 30- to 40-ft telescoping masts and offer robotic pan, tilt and 300X zoom. Batteries and solar panels allow the wireless, self-powering units to function in real-time, even if moved to a remote location. The cameras can be accessed by authorized users via the EarthCam website. Users can zoom in on any portion of the site, rotate the viewing canvas and observe the area from 360 degrees given the appropriate level of access. “The feature that stands out to us is EarthCam’s web interface, both from a technical/configuration standpoint and, more importantly, the ease of use for the end users,” says Kenneth Haynes, special project supervisor for computer services for ALDOT. “The interface is well laid out and is intuitive to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of computers and web-based graphical user interface. According to EarthCam CEO and Founder, Brian Cury, the company’s camera assemblies are in place in 36 departments of transportation nationwide. n EarthCam’s Mobile TrailerCam carefully documents roadway construction and archives the progress for the Alabama Dept. of Transportation.
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Image courtesy of EarthCam
Camera Tracks Talladega Traffic and a Whole Lot More
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Innovative Design Review Saves IDOT Time and Money The Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) is widening Federal Aid Program 310/U.S. 67 in parts of Madison and Jersey Counties. The project includes an “in-kind” extension of an existing steel reinforced concrete arch built in 1938. The 52-ft, 7-½-in. expansion spans the Little Piasa Creek, which collects drainage from a vast area. The creek is normally a low-flow waterway but during a rain event, the water level and volume can quickly increase. RCS Construction and Keller Construction, the contractors chosen for the bridge extension, contacted Contech Engineered Solutions to see if the firm manufactures a steel structural plate arch that could serve as a stay-in-place form. The existing arch had a span of 54 ft and a rise of 21 ft, with an elevation difference of about 43 ft from roadway to stream bed. The plate system would need to match the geometry of the existing arch and handle the heavy loading required during concrete casting and the curing process. The complexity of forming the structural bracing in the waterway and the potential for washout during high water threatened to make the construction challenging, expensive and dangerous. The Contech engineers determined that a BEBO precast, three-sided structure would provide a proper fit. It would eliminate almost all of the cast-in-place concrete and forming and a drafting overlay showed the BEBO C-54T twin-leaf arch system would provide an almost exact match to the existing arch. The BEBO structure was placed on a cast-in-place footing cast into the bedrock. The footing was minimized to maintain the elevations and the geometry alignment. Once the footings cured, the installation schedule for the arch units was set and 20 precast pieces were shipped to the jobsite. The result was a structure, which was installed in a matter of days with minimum safety risks and maximum cost savings for the contractor and the state of Illinois. n
The BEBO precast, three-sided structure eliminated the need for almost all of the cast-in-place concrete and forming for the bridge extension project.
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Replacement Bridge Reunites New York and Vermont When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin announced the opening of a new bridge last November, they unveiled a critical link for west-central Vermont and New York State. Residents, businesses and communities had, for decades, depended on the Lake Champlain Bridge. Its closing in 2009 was a major inconvenience. The officials cited an unprecedented collaboration between the partners involved in building the new bridge as the reason why the structure was completed in just two years rather than the initially projected eight years. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our federal, state and local partners, the bridge opened far earlier than planned,” says Governor Cuomo. The bridge, spanning 2,200 ft over a narrow stretch of southern Lake Champlain, was constructed with conventional steel girder approaches and a modified network tied-arch main span. The main span was assembled on land and then floated and hoisted into position. Flatiron used the Poseidon II 40-ft x 10-ft x 7-ft and 20-ft x 10-ft x 7-ft barges. Poseidon Barge serves heavy highway, dredging, marine and diving contractors with portable sectional barges and equipment. Contractors and laborers worked through “unimaginable weather conditions,” says Mike Neher with Poseidon.
Flatiron used the Poseidon II 40-ft x 10-ft x 7-ft and 20-ft x 10-ft x 7-ft barges on the Lake Champlain project. Construction began in June 2010 after the old structure was demolished in December 2009. Due to the emergency nature of the closure and the lack of efficient detour routes, New York and Vermont worked closely with the United States Dept. of Transportation and other federal and state agencies to efficiently lead a replacement project through significant review processes. The federal government funded 80% of the project’s $76-million price tag. The balance was split between Vermont and New York state governments. The replacement structure “recreates the iconic previous Champlain Bridge,” says Shumlin, “and I’m enormously proud of the design and the execution of this state-of-the-art engineering accomplishment.”n
Thought Leadership Corporate leaders speak out on issues impacting transportation today Amidst the noise of opinions and attitudes, leaders in the industry have something to say. The following thought leadership segments are intended to give readers new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new concepts to take to their teams. Each of these interviews was conducted with AEC executives who have been
Rail Needs to Assess the State of Good Repair David Wilcock Vice President Rail & Transit Michael Baker Jr. Inc. One major issue facing transportation in America today is the challenge of maintaining rail and transit systems in a state of good repair. While some funding is available from federal sources such as the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Fixed Guideway Modernization Program, the financing burden is carried primarily by states and municipalities. This poses an obvious challenge since local and regional entities continue to suffer from declining revenue.
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in the trenches and around the world. They know the dynamics of a changing transportation industry and the challenges of troublesome economies. Their insights may offer your firm a new idea that changes your paradigms or provides thoughts that lead to inventive ideas of your own.
FTA is doing a good job of working with agencies to develop assessment tools that will ultimately allow transit systems to complete accurate inventory assessments to help clarify the magnitude of their need. FTA’s development of consistent templates, inventory categories and definitions for assessment levels will help all agencies to define their needs in similar terms and categorize their capital reinvestment requirements in a uniform way. In the future, when we help agencies to evaluate their assets, we will be able to effectively compare systems using equivalent terms. Agencies, consultants and funding sources will then truly be able to speak the same language. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting the assessment tools defined and completed. Once they are in place, priorities can be established so that deferred
maintenance and capital improvements can be scheduled and we can get our rail systems back in a state of good repair. Mobile Apps Poised to Change Construction Steve McGough Chief Operating Officer HCSS
Smart phones and tablets are moving quickly into construction. Last year, smart phones sales in the U.S. reached almost 100 million showing a 50% year-over-year increase. In 2011, they made up 43% of the market and are expected to be the majority by year-end. Whether you use a smart phone or tablet, instant-on devices are here to stay. [ Continued on Page T 15 ]
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We see mobile and tablet devices helping construction on two fronts: 1. Fast entry of daily information on devices, which are quick to turn on and easy to use
In 2011, smart phones and tablets made up 43% of the market and are expected to be the majority by year-end. 2. Instant access to reporting for people on the move, which is especially important in today’s world of stretchedthin management HCSS unveiled the first in a new series of mobile applications developed specifically for construction to integrate with HCSS’s back-end databases and suite of other construction programs. These apps enable users to have access to information on an iPhone or iPad, and on Android-based smart phones and tablets. The apps are designed to work with or without a constant internet connection
and all the data transmits back to the office applications that are already part of the HCSS suite, enabling you to integrate them with your existing accounting systems. If Not Now, When? Raymond Steege, P.E. Senior Vice President Global Transportation Sector Leader AMEC The United States spends only 2.4% of its GDP on transportation- and waterinfrastructure systems, while China spends 9%, Europe spends 5% and Canada spends 4%. The United States has fallen sharply in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of national infrastructure systems. In the forum’s 2007-2008 report, American infrastructure ranked 6th best in the world and fell to 16th in their 2011-2012 report. A Reuter’s transportation report ranks South Korea ahead of the United States. When you combine these findings with
an 8.3% unemployment rate (13.7% in the construction industry), it is clear that infrastructure spending could solve both issues. Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing infrastructure spending and investment bills. The House bill is a five-year, $260-billion spending plan; the Senate bill is a two-year, $109-billion program. Both recognize additional funding is needed that the current Highway Trust Fund cannot support.
We need leadership, action and a new way forward for infrastructure spending to keep our country competitive. It is time for our political leadership to come to an agreement on a new funding stream. While public-private partnerships are a tool in the toolbox, they are not the best solution to our infrastructure crisis. We need leadership, action and a new way forward for infrastructure spending to keep our country competitive.
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Unprecedented Market Turmoil Affects Every Sector Mark Pighini Principal Deloitte Financial Advisory Services Matt Widmer Principal Deloitte Financial Advisory Services The volatile marketplace has jolted how businesses make decisions about complex capital projects. Cash is tight for some businesses and capital infusions remain increasingly difficult to secure. Meanwhile, for those organizations with the ability to fund projects, scrutiny from shareholders, regulators and, in some cases, the public has intensified. Companies are taking greater care with capital investments, adopting a do-more-with-less mindset.
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Yet, stakeholders demand fast return on investments in capital projects, imposing short deadlines on federal and state stimulus spending. This high-speed environment leaves precious little time for due diligence and planning. The result can be
Companies are taking greater care with capital investments, adopting a do-more-with-less mindset. increased opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse. In this marketplace, as companies balance growth objectives with cost and risk management, they could benefit from a more sophisticated approach to capital planning and budgetingâ€”one that looks across the capital project life cycle and offers greater visibility into volatility, risk and return-on investment potential. Making critical, analytical decisions upfront and leveraging highly technical methodologies and strategiesâ€” from electronic schedule analysis
and geospatial mapping to decision analytics tools, and project oversight methodologiesâ€”can help organizations to spend precious capital dollars efficiently. Deploying integrated service models throughout the project are actions that every organization should undertake. Survey Supports Concrete Pipe Advantages Matt Childs President American Concrete Pipe Association A recent nationwide survey of drainagepipe customers found that concrete pipe rated highest, by a significant margin, on several of the most important criteria used to make decisions on such purchases. The survey, conducted by the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA), received responses from more than 400 specifiers, Depts. of Transportation and other public-agency officials, consultants and contractors.
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Respondents rated concrete pipe best among all pipe products on several key criteria, including most durable (87.3%), easiest to design or specify (62.1%), least flammable (84.1%), least installation inspection required (54.5%), least installation sensitive (62.1%) and greenest (34.1%). “The results confirm what we’ve known for decades,” says Matt Childs, president of ACPA. “Concrete pipe is a superior drainage product on the most important criteria such as durability, ease of design and life-cycle cost as well as service life expectancy. As with anything, there are always cheaper alternatives; but what might seem less expensive in the short term usually costs you more in the long run when you have to repair or replace it sooner than you expected.”
Stormwater carries these same toxins into our water systems. The asphalt industry should embrace the use of a durable wearing surface that is unaffected by contaminants and extends the life of asphalt pavement. Such products reduce maintenance costs and eliminate the need for toxic and temporary sealing materials. Their high solar reflectance reduces heat gain. They also lock in toxins, preventing release into the environment. Depts. of Transportation and facility managers will reduce their carbon footprint and enhance the competitiveness of asphalt and concrete by investing in durable wearing surfaces. A Time to Embrace Diversity Bruce Trott President
Pavement Life Extended Through Protective Coating
PCL Civil Constructors Inc.
Rick Otto Technical Director PolyCon USA
The asphalt industry searched for years for ways to extend the life of asphalt pavement. New mix designs significantly improved performance, but are still subject to the environmental ravages of water and ultra violet rays (UV). Asphalt has historically been relatively inexpensive, which fostered an industrywide mentality that it was a disposable surface. However, with the price of oil tripling recently, asphalt is less affordable and is a valuable asset that must be preserved.
The asphalt industry should embrace the use of a durable wearing surface that is unaffected by contaminants and extends the life of asphalt pavement. In addition, consider environmental concerns. Due to its black color, asphalt absorbs and retains solar heat, increasing the heat index in many areas, and contributes to global warming. Asphalt pavements also release solvents, chemicals and hydrocarbons, which off-gas into the atmosphere.
There is a new challenge on the horizon and it carries with it a unique opportunity. The challenge is to bring greater diversity into the construction industry. It is important to focus on diversity and to advance opportunities for all types of people. Heavy construction is a complicated business and, as we depend on a strong workforce, we must reach out to the best and brightest from every race and gender. To do this we must become involved in the communities where we work. We must share the message that construction can offer very fulfilling careers for women and minorities. We must offer challenging opportunities at all levels in our companies. As we recruit in the schools, we must show that construction is a viable and enriching career. One way our firm does this is through ACE mentoring in a number of chapters, including one we recently helped initiate in Florida. As we pair up staff with students, we help them understand the diversity of career opportunities that exist in a construction environment. Companies tend to focus on shortterm issues and goals. They must recognize that, for long-term success, we must bring all kinds of people into the industry. There is a perception that the construction industry is not oriented towards variety. We’re changing that; but it takes time to break down barriers.
Early Involvement Key to Retaining Wall Success John Sankey, P.E. Vice President Engineering The Reinforced Earth Company The use of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls has made a significant contribution to the transportation industry, since introduction into the United States over 40 years ago. MSE walls are retaining structures along highways and railways that primarily provide grade separation and slope stabilization, capitalizing on structural efficiency and cost effectiveness to replace thicker cast-in-place concrete retaining walls.
Involving the MSE supplier in the preliminary stages of the design-build process allows the other design disciplines to determine how best to accommodate the wall alignment and envelope before finalizing the MSE design drawings. MSE suppliers, at one time, were retained through the contractor to complete design within the alignment and wall envelope developed from the owner’s contract drawings. This allowed little flexibility. With the advent of design-build, the process now brings the contractor into the design process. As a result, the MSE supplier’s role is more vital than ever. The supplier can help streamline design and provide input, reducing design conflicts, materials and construction turnaround time. Involving the MSE supplier in the preliminary stages of the design-build process allows the other design disciplines to determine how best to accommodate the wall alignment and envelope before finalizing the MSE design drawings. This reduces revision cycles. Fully involving the MSE supplier has proven time and again to be a key in the successful completion of economical retaining walls. The process itself assures greater flexibility and communication.
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Challenging Ourselves to Be Better Engineers Wassim Selman, Ph.D., P.E. President Infrastructure Division ARCADIS U.S. We are facing critical and growing transportation funding shortages at the federal, state and local levels, and it doesn’t appear these shortages will be addressed adequately anytime soon. At the same time, we want to do more to be good stewards of our planet—balancing growth with improved quality of life, livability and sustainable development. This new norm of doing more with less means engineering firms need to think in new and creative ways to address the age-old problem of how to efficiently and safely move people between destinations. • Exploring innovative funding solutions and alternative project delivery methods are crucial, but we need to do more. We must quickly modernize our transportation
design standards to account for limited resources and right-of-way. • We must abandon wholesale facility widening and focus on surgical and more cost-effective improvements. • We must design more innovative solutions.
We know how to analyze complex transportation networks, we are good at assessing various improvement scenarios, and we can design a multitude of safe facilities and features. We know how to analyze complex transportation networks, we are good at assessing various improvement scenarios, and we can design a multitude of safe facilities and features. Our greatest challenge today is not to just do what we have been trained to do, but to do it better.
It’s Possible to Build Support for Funding Julie Lorenz Senior Strategic Consultant Burns & McDonnell
Even the best ideas can languish without public support and funding. Moving from early planning into design and construction requires a foundation built on positive stakeholder engagement. Developing that foundation can take many forms, and in today’s economic climate a serious examination of the economic benefits of a proposed initiative can be used as a focal point upon which to build support. Economic analysis can be a powerful tool in demonstrating how one project—or a statewide transportation program—has the potential to create positive change in a community. Whether the project’s effects will be job creation or retention, improving the tax base or increasing economic competitiveness, a threepronged approach will be most effective in developing necessary support.
Economic analysis can be a powerful tool in demonstrating how one project—or a statewide transportation program— has the potential to create positive change in a community. First, stakeholders need to know your initiative solves an important problem and improves their lives. Second, they need to have the opportunity to shape the solutions to the extent possible. In terms of economic analysis, the data must be meaningful to your stakeholders and the results must be framed in terms that resonate. I caution—there’s no magic data set upon which to base decisions. Rather, develop and use data that is meaningful to stakeholders and agency staff in transparent ways. We must create collaborative processes, within established constraints, and supported by data to reach decisions that stakeholders and legislators alike will fund and support. n
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