If you're a civil engineer, mayor, or transportation department administrator, you probably know it's the 3rd annual Infrastructure Week (May 11-15). The theme of the week has perennially centered on the funding gaps between funding needs and actual levels, and the impact our investments have on our economic future. But what can we do with this information? We can arm ourselves with it, call on Congress to make long-term funding commitments, and explore programs and partnership possibilities.
Read about the dire state of our roadways, railways, runways, waterways, and pipelines as well as the numerous groups calling for modernizing our infrastructure (#RebuildRenew). Hear from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who has long called for stable transportation funding through the Grow America Act, and has warned of the May 31 expiration date for federal transportation funding. Listen to the mayors this past Wednesday, meeting just hours after the tragic Amtrak derailment on the Northeast Corridor in Philadelphia in what New York mayor Bill de Blasio called a "painful coincidence," discussing the need for cities and Washington to work together to address infrastructure investments (#MayorsDo). You can read countless articles about how Positive Train Control (PTC) technology could have prevented the Amtrak crash and could intercede by overriding operator error and slowing down or stopping a train if the engineer misses a signal or is speeding, and how that technology is assisting Southern California rail service. You can read about the small but signficant success of improving the Keystone Corridor as a model for future successes.
For those involved in grants, you can read how PTC systems are eligible for financing on a rolling basis under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program.
And while a failing-grade "Failure to Act" report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) might not be a high note to leave on, consider this the negative feedback to motivate us to act for our collective success, for job growth, for ultimate cost savings, and for our quality of life.
As you can see on page 7 of that report, between now and 2020 the investment shortfall will grow to about $1.1 trillion. We can pay a lot now, or pay a lot more later: