US Infrastructure Experts Seek Ways to Shrink Funding Gap

By on May 31, 2016

From Engineering News-Record:  Infrastructure boosters rallied for their cause earlier this month at a series of gatherings in Washington, D.C. and other U.S. locations to find ways to shrink the estimated $1.4-trillion funding gap to upgrade aging highways, bridges, water systems and other public works. But it remains unclear how much impact the high-level interchanges will have on federal legislation in this election year.

Infrastructure advocates must wait until 2020 for another crack at funding gains for highways and transit, the sector with the deepest deficit—$1.1 trillion, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates.Signed last December, the $305-billion Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act locks in higher authorizations for five years, but with increases that industry officials find disappointingly modest.

But the conferences—among numerous  “Infrastructure Week” events held May 16-23 across the U.S.—may help other bills not yet at the finish line, says Brian Pallasch, ASCE managing director for government relations and infrastructure initiatives. “It’s not just roads and bridges, obviously, that we need to talk about,” he says.

Pallasch points to the $11-billion Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which a Senate committee cleared on April 28. It has $5 billion for new Army Corps of Engineers civil-works projects, the law’s traditional centerpiece. It also funds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater and drinking-water programs. That could help cities with deteriorated systems, such as in Flint, Mich.

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