NRC Says Corps of Engineers’ Infrastructure on an Unsustainable Path
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been unable to maintain its navigation channels, locks, dams, and levees in recent years due to constantly declining budgets, the National Research Council (NRC) said this week.
“Over the past century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has built a vast network of water management infrastructure that includes approximately 700 dams, 14,000 miles of levees, 12,000 miles of river navigation channels and control structures, harbors and ports, and other facilities,” the NRC said.
“Since the mid-1980s, federal funding for new project construction and major rehabilitation has declined steadily. As a result, much of the nation’s water resources infrastructure is now deteriorating and wearing out faster than it is being replaced.”
Part of the problem arises from the ever-expanding role of the Corps in water resources engineering, the report said. The Corps began as an agency organized to regulate and expedite navigation on the nation’s rivers; its mission has since grown to include flood control projects, hydropower generation, and port and harbor maintenance, the NRC added.
“In an earlier era, it was easier to integrate a smaller number of missions, and to share expertise and experience among them. Today, however, the larger number of responsibilities makes agency-wide integration difficult,” the report said.
“Due to insufficient funding, many portions of the Corps of Engineers’ water infrastructure are not being maintained at acceptable levels of performance and efficiency,” the NRC added. “There is, however, no single, obvious path forward for alternative funding mechanisms to maintain or upgrade existing Corps infra¬structure.”
The NRC laid out five options for the Corps to consider as it faces greater demands on its funds for infrastructure:
• Option 1 Business as usual
• Option 2 Increase federal funding for operations, maintenance and rehabilitation
• Option 3 Divest or decommission parts of Corps infrastructure
• Option 4 Increase revenue from Corps project beneficiaries
• Option 5 Expand partnerships
The complete NRC report can be found here.
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Legislative Fly-In 2013: Save The Date
It’s that time of year again! Mark your calendars for March 19-21, ASCE’s 2013 Legislative Fly-In in Washington, DC. Details, including schedule and application information, will be available on ASCE’s website later this month and the application deadline will be December 7th.
The Legislative Fly-In provides ASCE members with the opportunity to learn about public policy issues affecting the civil engineering profession, and to communicate the civil engineer’s perspective on those issues with elected officials on Capitol Hill. Fly-In attendees will be the first to introduce the new and highly anticipated 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure to their elected officials.
View pictures and information from the 2012 Legislative Fly-In. Help us reach our 2013 goal of having all 50 states represented!
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COFPAES Sponsors Conference on Marketing Engineering Services to Federal Agencies
Want a snapshot of upcoming federal contracting opportunities? Join the Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services for its Federal Markets Conference on Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 8:30 AM to 4:15 PM at the American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20006.
ASCE is a founding member organization of COFPAES. A $50 registration discount is provided to ASCE members.
Designed for principals, owners, and partners of A/E firms and marketing and business development executives, this one-day event will give you the opportunity to engage with top officials from key Federal agencies as they discuss their program budgets and present upcoming projects and procurement opportunities for architectural, engineering, surveying, and mapping services.
Past conferences have featured the General Services Administration, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Federal Highway Administration, State Department Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Millennium Challenge Corporation. COFPAES is assembling a similar line-up this year, so register today!
Registration for ASCE members is $195. The cost for non-members is $245.
Click here to view the preliminary agenda and register.
While COFPAES is not holding hotel space, nearby hotels include: State Plaza, AKA White House, W Hotel, Willard, and River Inn. Please note that there is no parking at AIA. Click here for Metro and parking information.
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Are You Registered To Vote?
There are only 39 days until the November election, and time is running out in many communities to register to vote. Registering to vote is your first step toward influencing choices made by your elected officials, especially when it comes to issues important to civil engineering. Deadlines vary from state to state, so be sure to check deadlines and get registered. Visit http://www.engineeringthevote.org to find out deadlines and how to register.
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Sign Up Today: “Livable Cities of the Future” Symposium
Plan to attend “Livable Cities of the Future”, to be held on the downtown Brooklyn Campus of Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) on Friday, October 26, 2012. The forum will honor Dr. George Bugliarello (1927-2011), NYU-Poly president, scholar and engineering polymath who inspired innovation in sustainable cities. ASCE is a non-financial co-sponsor.
This symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary group of engineers, civic leaders, educators and futurists, addressing innovative urban planning for the cities of tomorrow.
Further information and registration can be found here.
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State Legislative Updates
Alaska gas line project could exceed $65B
A liquefied natural gas project in Alaska could cost more than $65 billion and would represent a mega-project of "unprecedented scale and challenge," officials behind the project told Governor Sean Parnell. In a letter to Parnell released by the governor's office late Wednesday, officials with TransCanada Corp. and the North Slope's three major players said good progress has been made in pursuing a project. But they said "significant environmental, regulatory, engineering and commercial work remains to reach upcoming decisions to bring North Slope gas to market." They estimated the cost of a pipeline project could range from $45 billion to more than $65 billion, involve up to 1.7 million tons of steel and employ up to 15,000 people during peak construction and more than 1,000 in Alaska permanently.
Read more: Alaska Daily News 10/3
Voters to decide tax for highways
In the November 6 general election, voters will decide the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment for a temporary one-half cent state sales tax increase to finance a $1.8 billion bond issue to build a four-lane highway system connecting all corners of the state. Highway construction under the plan would focus primarily on creating a statewide four-lane grid and adding capacity to existing four-lane highways. Some of the larger and expensive projects planned include widening Interstate 540 to six lanes from Fayetteville; widening Arkansas 18 from Jonesboro east to I-55; expanding U.S. 412 to four lanes between Walnut Ridge and Paragould; widening U.S. 67-167 between Jacksonville and Cabot; widening I-40 from Little Rock to Conway; replacing the I-30 bridge over the Arkansas River; and widening U.S. 70 from I-30 to Hot Springs.
Read More: Arkansas Daily News 10/1
ASCE Members in Arkansas should be on the lookout for a Key Alert urging support of this ballot measure
Millions in Funding Coming to California Transportation Projects
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has redistributed $136 million in funding to California, Caltrans announced Tuesday. The funding was originally allocated to other states, but was not spent, and because California successfully demonstrated that it can deliver transportation projects, the state will benefit. Caltrans and regional agencies worked together and allocated $83 million of the funding to 17 Caltrans projects. Each year, the FHWA redistributes unspent federal funding. This year, $1.4 billion was handed out nationwide, and California's share was by far the largest.
Read More: Central Coast News 10/3
Agency seeking funding solutions
The two largest components of Kansas highway funding have been based on federal aid and the state's motor fuel tax. But with those resources expected to decline, the Kansas Department of Transportation has been surveying local government and community leaders around the state about what they think the state should do to maintain funding for highway improvements. At each of the meetings, KDOT has passed out a survey listing nine specific short- or long-term solutions and asking for other suggestions. The top three picks at each of the four meetings thus far, including Hutchinson, have been the same - increase the motor fuels tax; levy a tax on alternative fuels such as methanol, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, hydrogen, electricity and biodiesel; and an extra annual registration fee for cars that run on alternative fuels or electricity, said Lindsey Douglas, KDOT's chief of governmental affairs.
Read More: Hutchinson News 9/30
O’Malley to seek surcharge to harden Md. electric grid
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on Wednesday will ask the state’s utility regulators to adopt a controversial plan to allow electric companies to charge ratepayers in advance of serious maintenance upgrades. In exchange, the utilities would have to meet a stricter standard of reliability. The plan, O’Malley said, will add a “dollar or two” to most Marylanders’ monthly electric bills so that Pepco and other companies could complete several years of planned tree trimming, line burial and other improvements in a shorter span of about 24 months. If successful, the plan would accelerate a long-term schedule for hardening a grid that has repeatedly failed customers in the Washington region and beyond in recent years, O’Malley said.
Read More: Washington Post 10/3
Regional transit still on table in Legislature
Legislation creating a regional transit authority to coordinate public transportation in southeast Michigan has been jump-started in the state House after stalling in the Senate. A bipartisan parade of business leaders and officials from Metro Detroit and Gov. Rick Snyder's office lined up Thursday to tout the social and economic benefits of creating an intermodal transit system. House Bill 5309 is the 24th known attempt over the past 40 years to coordinate public transportation between Detroit and suburban Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
Read More: Detroit News 9/28
GOP blasts proposal to hike NH gas tax
The House Republican leadership blasted Democrats for proposing a gas tax hike while prices at the pump are at an all-time high, but the proposal’s sponsor says it is time to take care of the state’s highways. “At a time when our hard-working citizens are already being crushed by the high cost of filling up their tanks resulting from the doubling of gas prices under the Obama administration, the last thing we need is the gas tax increase that the Democrats have put forth,” House Majority Leader Peter Silva, R-Nashua, said. But the lawmaker who made the bill request, Rep. Chuck Weed, D-Keene, was more emphatic, saying the state needs to take care of its roads and bridges. “We need to start paying for our infrastructure. We have not had a gas tax increase since the 1990s,” Weed said. “Part of the money would go to betterment, so a good part comes back to the communities.”
Read More: Union Leader 10/2
Cuomo’s Tappan Zee Plan Seen as Public-Private Model, RPA Says
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to have private companies design and build a new Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River can serve as a cost-saving model, said Alex Marshall of the Regional Plan Association. Last year, Cuomo pushed through the legislature a bill that allows the state to put private companies in charge of the entire building process on infrastructure projects. Previously, New York did the design and private companies handled construction. Cuomo is applying the so-called design-build format, which he considers more efficient, to the $5.2 billion Tappan Zee project.
Read More: Bloomberg 10/3
Transportation bottleneck in the Old Dominion
Over the next 20 years or so, according to a report commissioned by Virginia’s legislature, the state will need about $2 billion in transportation funds to support Dulles International Airport and nearby growth corridors. It will need up to $20 billion to improve freight mobility statewide and perhaps $10 billion to expand and upgrade the port at Hampton Roads. It will need tens of billions of dollars more to repair pavement; fortify flimsy bridges; ensure the safety of transit systems; build new tunnels and bridges; install the latest technology; and — most mundane of all, if not to millions of daily commuters — come to grips with traffic. If the numbers make your head swim, you’re not alone. Lawmakers in Richmond haven’t begun to figure out where the money will come from.
Read More: Washington Post 9/30
Mead unsure that fuel tax is necessary
Governor Matt Mead says he is unconvinced that a state fuels tax hike is needed. But a legislative proposal to raise the levy by 10 cents needs to part of the discussion of how to better fund Wyoming’s cash-strapped highway system, he adds. Still, other options should be considered before moving forward with a tax hike, Mead says. Specifically, Mead said he wants to explore using third-party groups or consultants to see if WYDOT can more efficiently build and maintain roads.
Read More: Tribune Eagle 10/3
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