The U.S.A's infrastructure is in desperate need of improvement. According to the ASCE's most recent Infrastructure Report Card, America's infrastructure received a grade of C-.
Traffic, transit, stormwater, water, wastewater, dams, bridges, and aviation are just a few of the infrastructure systems that require attention. But where is the "low-hanging fruit" for moving toward a safer and more sustainable future?
There are plenty of examples of remarkable success through privatizing specific infrastructure sectors in North America. Air traffic control in Canada, for example, is organized and successful. Other privatization efforts include public-private partnership (P3) toll road projects such as the I-77 HOT Lanes project in Charlotte, North Carolina, and successful P3 toll roads in Texas like Dallas' LBJ Expressway and Fort Worth's North Tarrant Express. Additional P3 projects include largescale water and wastewater treatment projects and light-rail systems.
The most recent U.S. administration is moving towards the privatization model to shift infrastructure projects to private companies. This shift occurs because private companies show a greater propensity to take risks. Compared to federal and state governments, private companies are more likely to strictly adhere to factors like budget and schedule.
Implement Newer Technology
Technology advancements have revolutionized the engineering industry's capacity to monitor infrastructure flaws and identify "pain points." Embedded sensor technology may help improve wastewater management, make crop distribution "smarter," and reveal where bridges are most likely to collapse. In most cases, adding technology to existing infrastructure for monitoring purposes is far more cost-effective than additional construction.
Develop High-Speed Rail
Some infrastructure projects significantly impact the national economy more than others. High-speed rail corridors (particularly in California and the Southeast) have the potential to add billions of dollars to the country's economy and shift population centers toward regions with greater natural resources. In addition to more efficiently moving people, high-speed rail projects also bolster the sustainability of America's transportation infrastructure.
Improve Surface Transportation
Maintenance and upgrades to the country's streets and highways are critical. These transportation channels significantly influence everything from business transactions to the safety of American citizens. They also affect the cost and use of fossil fuels and interstate business collaboration. New construction like lane additions and highway expansions can almost singlehandedly transform entire geographic areas and significantly reduce the time and money spent traveling on America's roadways.
Continued Infrastructure Assessment and Monitoring
Most of the country's essential infrastructure facilities are buried beneath the earth. Due to the large and varied number of buried telecommunications and electrical lines, natural gas pipes, water, sewer mains, drainage conduits, and tunnel systems, it's impossible to understate how important infrastructure assessment and monitoring truly is.
Investing in surveying by geomatics and closed-circuit television (CCTV) to avoid expensive and dangerous infrastructure failure due to age, condition, or damage incurred during construction can greatly improve infrastructure. Coordination of nearly every type of field technician, system inspector, CCTV operator, geomatics personnel, technical professional, and engineer will be needed to prevent possible failure. These efforts also require extensive communication between municipal and governmental agencies and utility companies.
Shield Engineering is proud to offer consulting services on new and existing infrastructure projects all over the U.S. Shield's consulting services include Environmental, Construction engineering, Engineering design, spill response management, and more. Contact us today to speak with an engineering professional.