Civil Engineers Present Guidelines for Economic Stimulus Infrastructure Investment
American Society of Civil Engineers’ principles will help ensure that investments are
made wisely and create long-standing benefits
Reston, Va.—The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released their recommended ‘Principles for Infrastructure Stimulus Investment’ designed to help guide lawmakers and the Obama administration when allocating economic stimulus funding for infrastructure projects poised to aid in rebuilding the nation’s economy. ASCE is encouraged by last week’s introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, which highlights a shared focus on accountability and infrastructure investment. This investment is expected to create and sustain jobs, and begin to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure if appropriately applied to areas that most require federal support.
America’s infrastructure is in dire need of proper, sustained attention, as evident by the grade of “D” in ASCE’s 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. On January 28, ASCE will release its 2009 Report Card, and early indications are that little improvement has been made in the past four years.
Infrastructure-related economic stimulus investments can reduce congestion and delays on America’s roadways; enhance public transit systems; reduce blackouts, brownouts and service interruptions; update the nation’s aviation system; and replace leaking water pipes. Careful consideration must be made in the selection of projects—both in stimulus and long-term legislative solutions—to ensure that appropriated funds for infrastructure investment produce desirable results.
“The House bill is an encouraging indicator that Congress shares ASCE’s recognition of the need for both infrastructure investment and strict accountability for the use of federal money in this volatile economy,” said D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., F.ASCE, ASCE president.
In order to guide the process of allocating funds to these important projects, ASCE has compiled guiding principles which will help steer investment in the right direction by keeping the focus on rehabilitating worn-out infrastructure to increase safety and building new infrastructure to keep the nation competitive in the global economy.
Among these principles, ASCE believes that all projects supported by an economic stimulus investment must meet the following fundamental criteria:
- Projects must create and sustain employment increases;
- Investments must provide long-term benefits to the public (such as congestion relief);
- Long-term maintenance and upkeep needs of all infrastructure projects—existing and new—must be taken into account; and
- To ensure accountability and transparency an auditing program must be established to review the program and measure desired outcomes.
As the investments are made, proper attention must be paid to the prioritization and selection of these projects to ensure that the criteria are met. The following principles should guide selection decisions:
- The project should deliver measurable improvements in public health, safety and quality of life;
- The project should provide substantial, broad-based economic benefit;
- The project should be designed and built in a sustainable and cost-effective manner, and proper consideration must be given to life-cycle costs; and
- The project should have a significant environmental benefit such as area restoration, improved air quality through reduced congestion or better watershed management through eliminating vulnerabilities in a system.
ASCE has long been an advocate for improving and maintaining the nation’s infrastructure. Following the release of the 2005 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, ASCE recommended spending $1.6 trillion over five years to bring the condition up to an acceptable level. Since that time federal funding has fallen far below that recommended level.
The 2009 ASCE Report Card grades will be released at a press event on January 28, 2009. The event will be held in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., at 10 a.m. A live Webcast of the event will also be available at: http://www.visualwebcaster.com/asceinfrastructurereportcard/.
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 146,000 civil engineers worldwide and is America’s oldest national engineering society. For more information, visit www.asce.org.