Utah Roadie, Roadie, Roadie | Pavement Management

Well, it’s official!  Blair got the PURPLE HARLEY.  Now he and Jackie are tearing up Route 66.

Jack
Blair and I are hosting a special free webinar next Wednesday at 2pm.

He is presenting in Utah and wants to share the excitement with you in a LIVE webinar!

Click Here To Register
 
Webinar ID: 145-062-755

                     For information on the conference…

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We may have some special guests on and some Alums that will answer questions you may have.  (this is in addition to our PDH Power Hour Monthly Free Webinar Series).

At the very least, grab a copy of the Book on Better Roads for FREE!

Get Your FREE Copy - 2
Date and Time
 
Wed, Apr 20, 2016 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT
 
So Keep this email handy!

It’s that easy!  Please email lori@ipmaacademy.com if you
have a “HOT TOPIC” that you would like to discuss.

Send in your questions by Monday, April 18th at 5PM.

Lori Miles

lori@ipmaacademy.com 😃 404-594-8819
The International Pavement Management Association (IPMA)

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Pavement Management Kick Start Check List

 

ipma-logo-powerhour

Many of you know our mission, but some are just coming in to our fold having registered for a webinar or one of our training sessions. For those of you who are new and want to catch up, please head over to http://blairbarnhardt.com/ and click your way around.

 

Worth a quick listen to is our plan to save America billions of dollars each year http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1243694 and have a listen to this podcast session where Scott McDonald, APM and I discuss setting up your pavement management system http://ipma.co/betterroadsradio/2014/01/16/episode-3-the-one-where-blair-corners-scott-mcdonald-ipma-advisory-board-member-and-paver-guru/ . If you are wondering how excited our TBG clients get after we finish serving them up a fresh new pavement management implementation watch Mayor Shelley here https://ipma-1.wistia.com/medias/q9qtijhjaz . Here is a video that was created by the local news team to explain what our crews were doing out there on the roads https://ipma-1.wistia.com/medias/32gs5ghka7 .

 

Our 2016 PDH Power Hour Webinar Series will walk you through everything you need to purchase, or hire out to begin saving your Agency millions of dollars each year. In fact our learners and clients routinely perform pavement management with The Three Legged Stool™ System of pavement management, and go on to save about million dollars annually for every 250 center lane miles of roadway they have. For example, in Rockdale County GA, Miguel Valentin, PE, APM and Brian Frix, PE, APM are saving about 2 million dollars per year with their 510 center lane miles of roadway after their StreetSaver® implementation with us.

 

Every time we kick start a new implementation of pavement management with a City or a County anywhere in America it seems one of our team members is sitting down with the local agency and asking the same group of questions. For this reason, in our most recent meeting I promised myself I would simplify the questions by making this check list. Feel free to share it amongst your staff and peers!

 

  • Does your local agency have a GIS (Geographical Information System) Guru on staff?

 

If YES, we usually always recommend that your agency pay the $1,750.00 one time integration fee to MTC StreetSaver.

 

 

As Brian Frix, PE, APM (Rockdale County GA and IPMA™ Advisory Board Member states, “To gain maximum potential out of StreetSaver® it’s best to utilize the agencies centerline shape file. It’s a small initial investment that provides a more complete and accurate database upon completion.

 

Always maintain an accurate PCI map. This helps non-technical and elected officials the ability to see the “big picture” without going thru a comprehensive technical report.

 

  • Does your staff have a list of unit prices for typical treatments you have used in the past, i.e. Hot Mixed Asphalt, High Density Mineral Bond, Cold in Place Recycling etc. It is imperative that the pavement management consultant get local regional unit prices as well as first hand knowledge on what treatments are not regionally available.

 

As Mr. Frix, PE, APM states, “Utilize local unit pricing for decision tree setup. And locals decision/ability to utilize certain treatments.” Now is the time to get off the proverbial pot and do some of the more innovative treatments you have been dreaming about doing!

 

  • Have you in the past rated your roads in any way shape of form?

 

Now is the time to come clean with your consultant, if you have done a windshield survey a while back, and or an Excel spreadsheet, now go ahead and give your consultant every stich of paper you may have, in the form of scribbled notes or maps. This information will help provide a solid scientific evidence to ensure a robust pavement management implementation.

 

  • Would you prefer MicroPAVER™ or StreetSaver® implementation?

 

Now is the time to commit to one program or the other. Even though there are other rating systems and tablet programs proliferating the marketplace, I think the only two programs that a PS related are as follows

 

MicroPaver™

StreetSaver®

 

You can demo a free version of StreetSaver® for 30 days here http://www.streetsaveronline.com/ worth noting is that MTC or Metropolitan Transportation Commission who provides the StreetSaver® Software is actually a governmental agency much like you! In fact they have over 400 users worldwide including some of the largest Cities and Counties in America such as Seattle, WA and Houston, TX.

 

 

  • Do you have a paper map for us and a list of roadways?

 

Blair is old school and loves his paper maps, while Jason and some of the other team members love their PDF maps on their iPads in the field! In any case, if you could provide a 36” map that clearly shows all of the roads we can sit down with you and determine the roadway network as a whole. For example, we can determine if you don’t already know what roads will be entered as Arterial, Minor Arterial, Collector and Local. We can decide which roads you may share with the County if you are a City and visa versa. Also, we will discuss our standard operating procedures for accurate measurement.

 

It pains me as a former vice president of a paving firm to see other pavement managers paying little if any attention to detailed quantities and accurate square yard measurements. What good is your budget if no one takes the time to add up all the cul de sacs, turnouts, widenings, round a bout s etc.? In fact, when we have something a little difficult to measure in the field with our digital devices we turn to http://goipave.com/ to do digital take offs.

 

  • Can we get a list of street names as they are entered into your GIS software?

 

In order to ensure that the StreetSaver® auto linkage works at its maximum efficiency and in order to minimize the time that Brian Frix, PE, APM will take performing manual GIS linkage, it is best for Lea and our data entry team to replicate the nomenclature for street name inventory on the GIS files. If you are using the US Tiger GIS Files, the process will take more manual linkage.

 

  • Do you have an idea of what your annual budget for roadway maintenance and rehabilitation will be?

 

As Jonathon Heese, APM Master states. “Just do it!! Figure out how much money you have to spend per year. We ran multiple scenarios at Arapahoe County, Colorado with Blair and fine-tuned our budgets. We also ran several what if unconstrained scenarios and target scenarios.”

 

“Nothing more affordable than StreetSaver® (or MicroPaver). Maybe you have been doing pavement management for years but your efforts have floundered. StreetSaver® and boots on the ground survey can reinvigorate you pavement management and give you the confidence to begin again. This time though, right sized and much more sustainable than before. Even very small towns are using StreetSaver® effectively. It has been said the right exercise for you is the one that you will do. The same could be said for pavement management. This is the easiest way and most cost effective method to save your agency money!”

 

 

Here is a short video of Jon discussing his set up in Arapahoe County, Colorado (the oldest County in Colorado) https://ipma-1.wistia.com/medias/yv7a57o3i2

 

Here is a sample final report that we did for City of Winder, GA https://ipma-1.wistia.com/medias/9gus5nnh31

 

  • Do you have some of your own equipment for preservation and rehab?

 

Many of our clients perform some of their work in house. Whether paving or crack sealing and filling or otherwise, we need to know so we can customize your work plan and requisite Decision Tree to maximize your return on investment as well as recommend other types of equipment you may benefit from owning. We will also determine when it is time to hire out to contractors rather than use your in house equipment.

 

  • Do you have accurate unit prices for all of your previous work?

 

In order for us to customize your StreetSaver® Decision Tree it is imperative that we are using current pricing. Ask me one day why The Barnhardt Group exists and I will tell you the story of when I was taking care of all of the Public Works Services for the largest privatized City in America, The City of Sandy Springs. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for pavement management from a high level consultant and got unit prices from 7 states away and two decades ago!

 

If you want to save millions following the Three Legged Stool™ System of pavement management that I outline in the Amazon Number One Best Seller The Book on Better Roads, then it is imperative that we are dealing with current and accurate unit pricing! Further we are utilizing ALL OF THE TOOLS IN THE TOOLBOX. Many consultants will leave you with a binder full of PCI ratings with three repairs, namely, thin overlay, medium overlay and thick overlay. SHAME ON YOU if you fall into that trap!!!!

 

Where I come from, the State DOT used to overlay their roads on a 7-year cycle, now one of their officials stated at a recent national meeting that due to budget constraints they could only overlay on a 99 year cycle. One day I will find that video clip and produce it as an IPMA™ Tip of the Week for your enjoyment!!!

 

  • Are there any dangerous areas of town we shouldn’t be in after dark?

 

We have to know the answer to this question just so we can stay alive to manage more pavements and make more videos.

 

OK this list is still in the works and I will edit it as I prepare the PDH Power Hour 2016 webinar series, but for know, I need to get out on the Prowler and survey some more roads for The City of Kingman, AZ. For those of you in AZ, recall that we have the cooperative bid clause set up with the City so you can bolt onto that contract at your earliest convenience!

 

Blair

 

Call me at 404-316-9792 anytime 7 days a week or blair@ipma.co we love serving our Circle Of Pavement Management RockSTARS!!!!

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Flash Sale | 15 Hours on Pavement Management Training

Blair is going to kill me!

The Unreleased Black Album was selling SO fast!!  I panicked and ordered the 8 DVD Special instead of the Single DVD (yeah, and a whopping 200 pcs).

As you can guess, this pushed “BOSS MAN” over the edge due to the HUGE inventory cost differential. 😦

This one is normally $400 BUCKS!

Just give me the cost back and he might keep me around.

CLICK HERE to have it delivered for $90.91!!! (I am paying your shipping in the US, for sure!)

THEY GOT TO GO!  I love my job!

(There is a bit of urgency here)

Here’s what’s inside:  Over 15 HOURS across 4 different states in countless INSIDER TIPS.  Since agency folks are not allowed to travel, we have produced amazing training sessions to view in the comfort of your office or home.

Guest speakers include the following:greatesthits-dvd-3d
Basem Muallem, PE
Brian Frix, EIT, APM
Dr. Mike Heitzman, PE
James Emerson, APM
Blair Barnhardt, APM
Kevin Donnelly, APM
Dr. Gary Hicks, PE
Miguel Valentin, PE, APM
Dave Fokken
Pat Faster
Rusty Smallwood
Mark Beatty

PS. The Greatest Box Set includes PDH Power Hour 01 as a special bonus.
As this deal is only good through my termination dat, take advantage now by ordering today!”

BUY ME

Howard Shieh, PE, APM emphatically states, “Blair’s training episodes and book really inspire me. His experience and enthusiasm with pavement management is remarkable!”

PLEASE BUY ME

I hope you take advantage of this great offer!

Best,

Lori
(404) 953-0131
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High-volume pavement preservation: Untapped potential for contractors

Re-Blogging from Better Roads Magazine

BY:  Chris Hill

|  February 15, 2016 |

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 7.17.10 PMAsphalt pavement preservation is a tactic used primarily in the realm of low-volume roadways. It has helped municipalities expand road life, keep overall highway maintenance costs down, and keep residents relatively happy during their commutes to and from work and home.

The success of these programs, along with interest from the Federal Highway Administration, is now pushing the paving industry to focus on pavement preservation for high-volume roadways.

The National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) at Auburn University is leading the way, implementing pavement preservation test plots on U.S. 280 in central Alabama. The highway is a major artery into the metro Birmingham area. (See sidebar below, “High-volume preservation method testing.”)

NCAT directed placement of these plots last summer, collecting performance data such as roughness, rutting and cracking. In addition to collecting this data weekly, they are also studying more long-term performance metrics (such as field permeability) on a quarterly basis.

The test is designed to be a “rational starting point,” in order to narrow down which pavement preservation techniques are the optimal combination of life-cycle costs and performance. The secondary goal is to use the data gathered to create guide specifications, and to recommend guidelines for pavement quality assurance testing and inspection.

NCAT’s partner in road research, Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Minnesota Road Research Facility (MnROAD), is also testing some of the same pavement preservation treatments on high volume roadways in Minnesota’s cold-weather climate.

“Our goal is to execute a single experiment with nationwide impact through the MnROAD partnership,” says Buzz Powell, NCAT assistant director and test track manager. “This involves experiment design, construction planning, installation, performance testing, dissemination of findings, and (most importantly) implementation. It would be ideal for guidelines/specifications to be universal; however, best practices could vary as a function of climate, materials, etc.”

 

Municipal experience

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 7.17.00 PMThe Charleston County (South Carolina) Transportation Development department has been a model example of a municipality continually improving and expanding a preservation program. In honor of those achievements, For Pavement Preservation (FP2) awarded the agency its 2014 James B. Sorenson Award. FP2 lauded the agency for its work testing and implementing multiple preservation techniques, and for its communication efforts explaining the preservation work to the public.

Though more than 80 percent of the county’s preservation work takes place on low-volume roadways, according to Richard Turner, project and preservation program manager, one method stands out for its effectiveness on high-volume roadways: microsurfacing.

“We continue to run pilot projects trying different applications, and probably the most used is microsurfacing,” Turner says. “I’ve seen that successfully placed on high-volume roads here in Charleston, by us or by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), assuming it’s put on the right road at the right time. If you put a microsurfacing treatment down on a road that’s a little bit further into its life, the microsurfacing lifecyle won’t be as good as it would be if you applied the treatment earlier in its life.”

This technique is fairly new in the market for high-volume roads in South Carolina, with SCDOT using the technique for the first time seven years ago (on U.S. 17 in Charleston County). Turner says his agency’s first use of the technique was in 2011.

“We’re looking at a market that’s five to seven years old,” he says, adding that he hasn’t been able to work with contractors in South Carolina because there aren’t any doing the work. Instead, contractors from adjacent states are winning the contracts.

“The two or three companies that are bidding on projects throughout South Carolina are able to have a nomad crew that comes and spends 30 to 60 days in each county, get the work done and report back. I don’t know if there’s anyone in the state ready to invest yet or not.”

From Turner’s perspective, microsurfacing is a far better application for high-volume settings (compared to low-volume roads), a viewpoint that comes as a direct result of his agency’s communication efforts. It boils down to look and feel.

“When it’s placed on roads that are higher volume, we’ve gotten no complaints,” he says. “When we’ve placed it on lower volume roads, that’s when we get the questions. It’s mostly because you have folks walking on these roads and they’re looking at every little detail of that road. They can tell that it’s not the same as a hot mix or dense graded asphalt. That’s when they notice it. When you’re driving down the road you can’t see it or feel it. You can’t tell that it’s any different.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 7.17.22 PMPlacing a microsurface treatment on high-volume roads changes the esthetics of the mat, Turner explains, with more traffic improving its appearance within the first month of use. “The effectiveness of it doesn’t change one way or another, but from a public perception standpoint, I think it looks better on a high volume road,” he adds.

Public perception of microsurfacing has taken a hit from instances of improper placement, and also from the application being used as more of a temporary bandage. “Those roads needed much more than a microsurfacing or some other preservation treatment,” Turner says.

Turner’s point touches on a major concept of pavement preservation. A roadway in need of major work, or one that is failing, is not a good candidate for preservation work and requires more extensive rehabilitation. To paraphrase Marty Comer, the president of Comer Contracting in Connecticut, even in lieu of public opinion, preservation is a difficult concept for some municipalities to grasp.

“It’s a real tough sell,” he says. “Pavement preservation is for ‘good’ pavement, and to get people to spend money on good pavement is sometimes a challenge. In dealing with municipalities, it’s a tough sell when they have bad roads that need work and then they try and spend money on preservation work. That’s what the whole industry has been promoting for quite a number of years, but it’s still a tough sell.”

 

Contractor perspective

As in South Carolina, microsurfacing has emerged as the high-volume preservation of choice in Connecticut. And just like its southern counterpart, Connecticut faces a shortage of contractors to perform the task. Even as a pavement preservation specialist, most of Comer’s work is chip seal.

But, much of the preservation work in the state has been handled a different way. Connecticut has seen a strong run of resurfacing work over the past few years, with the state’s Department of Transportation recently reporting 2015 as the fourth straight year of increased two-lane road resurfacing.

“There was a lot of bituminous concrete (asphalt) put down last year as far as historical amounts, and they plan to do a fair amount this year,” Comer says. “ConnDOT has a tendency to call that pavement preservation, especially if it’s thin lift, because the paving industry has tried to make that the pavement preservation of choice.“

“The public will, to a certain extent, accept cape seal in this area with chip seal and microsurfacing over it,” he adds. “They still turn their nose up at it a little bit, but it’s perceived as more acceptable because it’s smoother. “

“The name of the game in any surfacing project is to avoid having loose stone. For instance, if you’re going to chip seal, it needs to be swept practically the same day. That’s where I think it’s going, at least where I’m working. The motoring public doesn’t accept chip seal well, but if you can make it smoother, if you can sweep it up real quick, then the pavement maintenance industry can have more success. You certainly have to be neat and produce a good looking product.”

 

– See more at: http://www.equipmentworld.com/high-volume-pavement-preservation-untapped-potential-for-contractors/#sthash.N4fGzf4Z.dpuf

Pavement Management |Testimonial | Arapahoe

Jonathon Heese, APM Master, Arapahoe County, CO

Jon: Hi folks Jon Heese of Arapahoe County. I usually do blooper rolls for Blair; I was hoping to make an exception this time [laughter]. So we brought the Barnhardt Group and last year and got them to a evaluate 25% of our roadway network, got that done and put into the StreetSaver® software. We’ve been doing pavement managing for a long time, many years, we had a retirement and we thought this is a good time to look at our practices and take a close look at what we’ve been doing and see if we want to make changes. We ended up doing 25% of the network put it into StreetSaver® software, we liked what we saw so we went ahead and did the other 75% this year.

Blair is just wrapping up now today with us we’ve got the entire network, about 350 center lane miles of our network in the StreetSaver® software, and if you ever get a chance to work with the Barnhardt group, maybe on the last day you could talk Blair into sitting down with you like he did with us and going through all of the reports, that’s great. Real time, he will be there with you if your schedules work out and he can have that back-and-forth with him about what you’ve been doing and your decision tree and how the report comes out, all the various reports, how to get you to PCI that you want, and how much money it will take you to get all of those things. It’s a great opportunity if you get that chance, so we just did that, Blair is printing out his final report and we will be picking through that over the next several weeks.

Thumbs up if you get a chance to work with the Barnhardt group, I would recommend it even if you can’t work with the Barnhardt Group, I did read the book. If you get a chance to pick up the book, it’s free. Just email blair@ipma.co he will send you a free copy of the book [The Book on Better Roads, Saving Your Crumbling Roads with Practical Pavement Management], definitely worth reading, maybe give you some ideas that you haven’t thought of. That’s it for me, Blair, nice to talk to you folks.

As the Author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, “The Book on Better Roads – Saving Your Crumbling Roads with Practical Pavement Management” I have witnessed the transformation of local agencies just like you as they save millions of dollars by treating the right roads, at the right time, with the right treatment, for the right reason and with the right contractor!  You see, I have been in YOUR shoes!  Back in 2005, I was thrown into the position of Public Works Director for the largest privatized City in America, the City of Sandy Springs!  To make matters worse, there was no tax revenue in the coffers when the City broke free from the County, so I had to quickly learn how to do MORE with LESS!

I promised myself back then that no local agency should ever have to struggle with maintaining their crumbling infrastructure.  So over the last decade our team has built an entire suite of pavement management products and services that could collectively save this great Country 2.5 Billion Dollars a YEAR!  Take advantage of my 3 decades of experience in the pioneering trenches of the pavement management, in place recycling and pavement preservation industry!  Our team is the leader in this industry and is the voice for all new innovation across the nation!  Want to start saving millions like our other learners and clients?

Call today:  404-316-9792 or email lori@thebarnhardtgroup.com

Pavement Management Testimonial From Mayor Shelley Hansel

Wellington, KS Pavement Management Plan

Watch Full Video Here:

https://ipma-1.wistia.com/medias/qhnkp6yh9

And, here is the audio transcript:

Mayor Shelly Hansel, Wellington, KS

Shelly: Hi, I’m Shelly Hansel, the Mayor of Wellington, Kansas. And we just had our first session with Blair Barnhardt for our pavement study. We have to say; it is probably the best money that we have ever spent as far as I’m concerned in the city of Wellington. We now have a progressive roadmap so to speak of what we can do to improve the streets of our community. Without The Barnhardt Group, we would just be fixing things willy-nilly, but now we know what is a priority and what isn’t and how to move forward and save our city money. So I’m going to tell you right now, the Barnhardt group is the best decision you’ll ever make. It’s a progressive movement for your city to make move forward and have better streets and happier citizens.

As the Author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller, “The Book on Better Roads – Saving Your Crumbling Roads with Practical Pavement Management” I have witnessed the transformation of local agencies just like you as they save millions of dollars by treating the right roads, at the right time, with the right treatment, for the right reason and with the right contractor!  You see, I have been in YOUR shoes!  Back in 2005, I was thrown into the position of Public Works Director for the largest privatized City in America, the City of Sandy Springs!  To make matters worse, there was no tax revenue in the coffers when the City broke free from the County, so I had to quickly learn how to do MORE with LESS!

I promised myself back then that no local agency should ever have to struggle with maintaining their crumbling infrastructure.  So over the last decade our team has built an entire suite of pavement management products and services that could collectively save this great Country 2.5 Billion Dollars a YEAR!  Take advantage of my 3 decades of experience in the pioneering trenches of the pavement management, in place recycling and pavement preservation industry!  Our team is the leader in this industry and is the voice for all new innovation across the nation!  Want to start saving millions like our other learners and clients?

Call today:  404-316-9792 or email lori@thebarnhardtgroup.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pavement Management | Secret Weapons | IPMA

These 5 things have made the biggest difference in my career …ever.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Literally, they have helped more than any discovery in the past 28 straight years of surveying pavement and implementing pavement management plans.

Here is YOUR “SECOND CHANCE” bundle.

Get it…here.

I’ll be giving it to you using the same process-map and I walk clients through when they come for a $3,000.00 day of consulting on Pavement Management Software and Surveying Techniques 😉

(Except you don’t have to pay $3,000.00 or even leave the house).

Yours for the taking, here 🙂

Blair

P.S.  Literally. I think this is the coolest thing I could possibly offer you.

About three weeks ago, I presented this to a diverse group of City and County Staff Members ranging from a Road Tech all the way to a Director of Public Works for a County with 1457 Center Lane Miles (and the Commissioners, LOL) …and they all flipped out over this information.

You’re a Public Works Professional or Pavement Professional so you’ll “get it” fast, and I think you’ll be able to implement it even faster.  Enjoy!

P.P.S. I’m giving this to you because I can 🙂

I am offering IPMA Academy (CLICK HERE FOR SYLLABUS), 8 DVD Box set, The Book on Better Roads and The Unreleased Black Album for…..$$$$$$$$$$$

CLICK HERE TO SEE RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICE!

Now GO GET THIS DEAL HERE!

Blair

Pavement Management | Secret Sale | IPMA™

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.00.46 PM
THANK YOU TO THE 381 Pavement Professionals that OPTED-IN!

WOW, THAT WAS A CRAZY!!!!!

But, the OVERWHELMING response leads me to believe that I should offer a “SECOND CHANCE” bundle.  Almost as good ;~)

Limited to first 50 people and link will be disabled on Friday at Midnight!

Thank you SO much to ALL of our Pavement Management SUPERSTARS that are making a difference.

You know what roads, what time and what treatment and you are saving MILLIONS for your agency! 😉

I am offering IPMA Academy (CLICK HERE FOR SYLLABUS), 8 DVD Box set, The Book on Better Roads and The Unreleased Black Album for…..$$$$$$$$$$$

CLICK HERE TO SEE RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICE!

Want to learn more about pavement management, in-place recycling, and pavement preservation? Do you feel like you’re setup for failure as an agency engineer with little or no money to spend on your roads?

Now GO GET THIS DEAL HERE!

Lori

IPMA ACADEMY

IPMA | SECRET SALE REVEALED | BARNHARDT

The doors to the Secret Sale open tomorrow but you’re going to miss out if you’re not on the Insider’s List.

Go here and get on the list ASAP!

The reason you want to do that is you’re about to have access to the craziest offer in the HISTORY of Pavement Management.

Seriously …you’re going to flip out over this 🙂

Get on the list here so you don’t miss out!

Blair Barnhardt, APM
The International Pavement Management Association

Author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller,
‘The Book on Better Roads’

click here

We need to fix our crumbling infrastructure

FROM THE HILL

There’s an old song that aptly describes Congress today when it comes to our nation’s infrastructure. It’s called “You don’t miss your water (’til the well runs dry).”  Our “well” hasn’t run dry — yet — but it’s just a matter of time, and it would be foolish to wait until it does before we start building its replacement.

Much of our nation’s infrastructure — including many of our roads and bridges, locks and dams, and water and sewer systems — is outdated and crumbling. It’s desperately in need of repair or replacement — and yet, Congress keeps short-changing the federal government’s investment in maintaining and improving this essential foundation of our economy.

The numbers are mind-boggling. A quarter of our major roads are in poor condition, and one out of every nine bridges are structurally deficient. Nearly 800 cities have outdated wastewater collection systems that discharge raw sewage into rivers and streams when it rains. Many locks and dams on our nation’s waterways are decades past their design lives and at risk of catastrophic failures that could devastate regional economies.

There’s a heavy economic cost to such a shortsighted policy. The burden falls on households and businesses alike through higher costs, lower productivity, fewer jobs, lost time and weakened international competitiveness. The Council of Economic Advisers reported last year, for example, that Americans spend 5 billion hours stuck in traffic each year. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently estimated that the annual cost of traffic congestion on freight transportation alone is approaching $200 billion, most of which is passed along to consumers through higher prices. The American Society of Civil Engineers has calculated that the cumulative cost to the U.S. economy of failing to adequately invest in our infrastructure would be more than $3 trillion between 2012 and 2020. Those are significant costs, and they don’t include the economic impact of any catastrophic failures.

We’re paying a heavy price today for allowing our nation’s infrastructure to crumble, and that price will rise dramatically if we continue on our current course. On the other hand, there would be a substantial economic benefit from increasing our investment in the country’s infrastructure.

For starters, that increased investment would reduce the burden imposed on us by our crumbling infrastructure in the form of lost fuel, wasted time, higher costs and fewer jobs. Investing more in our nation’s infrastructure now would actually save us money over the long run.

In addition, increased investments in our nation’s infrastructure would provide the added benefit of stimulating both short- and long-term economic growth. Private sector analysts  Standard & Poor’s projected that investing an additional 1 percent of U.S. GDP ($160 billion) in infrastructure construction in 2015 would increase our GDP by $270 billion between 2015 and 2017 — and promote future economic growth by “allowing goods and services to be transported more quickly and at lower costs.” That’s a pretty decent return on our investment.

Increased investment in infrastructure would create new jobs as well — from the long-term economic growth it would produce as well as the near-term construction it would require. While the official unemployment rate is now 5 percent, the labor participation rate is also unusually low; millions of Americans would re-enter the workforce if additional opportunities arose — including many construction workers. The number of people working in construction jobs hit 6.4 million in October, the highest since 1999 — but still far below the 2006 level of more than 7.7 million. Estimates vary substantially, but there’s widespread consensus that each $1 billion invested in infrastructure construction creates at least 10,000 jobs. Standard & Poor’s estimated that investing an additional 1 percent of GDP would create more than 700,000 new jobs.

Unfortunately, while investing in our nation’s infrastructure is a proven and productive way to stimulate economic growth and create new jobs, we’ve been cutting back in recent years — and struggling pitifully just to maintain the current inadequate level of investment. The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that, adjusted for inflation, federal investments in transportation and water resources had fallen by 20 percent since 2003. Congress isn’t investing enough to properly maintain the infrastructure we’ve got — and certainly not enough to build the infrastructure our economy will need in the coming years.

We can’t keep taking our nation’s infrastructure needs for granted. We’re going to have to pay for them at some point. We can make the smart choice — sacrifice now to make productive investments, and get a substantial return on those investments in the near future — or we can stick our heads in the sand, choose the status quo and impose rapidly rising burdens on American households and businesses. That might be the politically popular choice today, but there’ll be hell to pay when that well runs dry.

Doyle represents Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1995. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.