October 29, 2012
Survey Aims to Put American Infrastructure on the Ballot
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Survey Aims to Put American Infrastructure on the Ballot
By Susan Smith
Mike De Lacey, president of Microdesk, provider of business and technology consulting services, talked about the company’s recently unveiled survey entitled “State of the Industry”. According to a report from The American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation's infrastructure was given a "D" grade, a rating that has not improved since 2005.
The point of this survey is to highlight the importance of infrastructure issues during this election year. De Lacey says that infrastructure needs to be brought to the forefront of the election and should be a topic in the debates.
“We want to hear candidates’ views on how they plan on addressing pressing need around infrastructure,” said De Lacey.
In the survey areas that are in the greatest need are highlighted. Microdesk also polled customers to find out which presidential candidate would have a more positive effect on the state of infrastructure. Most people felt that the Democrats focused more on domestic issues like U.S. At the moment infrastructure is not really a part of the conversation, De Lacey, said. 56 Percent of Respondents Say Strong Leaders Are the #1 Most Crucial Factor In Getting U.S. Infrastructure Back On Its Feet.94% of respondents agree that taxpayer dollars should go towards rebuilding our nation's infrastructure.
Building information modeling needs a greater awareness. “From our side we believe technology is going to be a big part of solving our national infrastructure problems as it relates to how we use funding,” said De Lacey. “The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT) has a program called Accelerated Bridge Program and they are very heavily relying on technology to allow them to address the really deficient bridges in Massachusetts, get them replaced very quickly and cost effectively. A lot of their success is based on how they use technology. They need funding to execute on those plans. Right now they are using bonds to generate those funds. They are selling triple-A rated bonds to provide funding to replace and repair bridges. We’re advocating that that funding needs to come from the federal government. Historically in the U.S., when we’ve had situations where we’ve been through a recession and high unemployment there have been federal programs to get the country back online. Roosevelt launched the National Rail System as a keystone for putting America back to work. Eisenhower launched the National Highway System as one of the cornerstones of putting the U.S. labor force back to work. Both successful, both allowed us to create a country that is a world leader.”
Today the U.S. is in a similar situation, according to De Lacey, yet we have technology and a country that is very capable of innovating, but we need the government’s commitment to making the infrastructure the best in the world. Currently, the U.S. infrastructure is 16th in the world. The quality of infrastructure has a direct impact of quality of life for residents and ability to attract talented people to the cities. It will also provide people with jobs.
Microdesk is meeting with Mass DOT, CALTRANS, NYC DOT as often as possible to promote this information.
An example is the City of Philadelphia which has a program mainly focused around their combined sewer and water infrastructure. The city has created series of programs to reduce the combined requirement of their water and sewer systems. By putting in a green roofs initiative, green parks initiative, to convert paved or concrete medians into grass medians, they are actually reducing the amount of runoff to their sewer system. They’re solving both problems, and making city more environmentally friendly while addressing a significant infrastructure problem. They are also providing more jobs. Even though they are using funds creatively and efficiently there still aren’t enough funds.
As part of Mass DOT’s Accelerated Bridge Program, they replaced 14 bridges in 10 weekends. They did it in such a way as to eliminate any inline construction so there was no closing of lanes for four months, no creating traffic jams and commuter problems. They would tear down a bridge in one night and roll a bridge into place the next day. Mostly they would close a road on Friday night and reopen it Sunday night. It was a very efficient use of technology and created a lot of jobs.
Federal, state and local municipalities are challenged two things – 1) the amount of funding they need to address problems 2) how to use funds as efficiently as possible.
Microdesk works with companies and agencies to raise their efficiency. The Urban Land Institute estimates that the U.S. needs $2.2 trillion in investment over next 5 years to maintain the country’s current level of 16th in the world and a quality of infrastructure that’s been given a grade of D.
“We want to see more funding going into infrastructure to address that and then we won’t get that much money, but need to get whatever we can to get as much done as possible with what money we have,” said De Lacey.
Accelerated Bridge is working closely with universities to use new ways of putting a bridge into place. Research programs are looking at the quality of new infrastructure and innovative technologies to determine what is the life expectancy of materials and how do we use them and get them to last longer.
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