To effectively leverage federal infrastructure dollars—and achieve successful builds—governors recognize ever more efficiency is needed across multiple, complex systems. Their appointed infrastructure coordinators are taking on mission critical work in states across the country.
Competing for $550 Billion
That’s the amount of new infrastructure spending anticipated to occur over the next decade based on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) According to the National Governor’s Association, about 25 states have now appointed coordinators to oversee implementation of regional IIJA projects. By emphasizing interagency collaboration on funding and projects, governors are aiming for “transformational infrastructure investments” throughout their regions. Importantly, as Construction Dive reports, the appointed coordinators will play a key role in coordinating state and local efforts to successfully apply for and implement projects funded from the federal commitment of $550 billion.
According to McKinsey, over 85% of that funding “will go to state and local agencies via project grants”—which means that state infrastructure coordinators are really wearing the hat of “impact officer in chief.” As funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) becomes available, infrastructure coordinators will be called upon to:
Define infrastructure projects and programs across multiple sectors and agencies in ways that directly address objectives for critical equity, the environment, clean-energy transitions, and economic development. Moreover, officials will likely need to navigate a complex set of approvals and stakeholders to deliver new builds and upgrades, all while integrating innovative technologies and managing cost with strained supply chains and the new Buy America requirements.
Recently, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) hosted an Infrastructure Implementation Workshop which brought coordinators from across the country together with leaders of federal agencies for guidance on leveraging the IIJA funding. McKinsey reports “About 60% of the federal grants will be distributed through formulas based on attributes such as a state’s population size or its miles of road. The remaining 40% will be in the form of competitive grants, loans and federal programs.”
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Speedy, energy efficient transit is high on the radar for cities and states across the country—and repeating the errors of the past is a big no. For next gen transit projects to succeed, they must overcome the massive delays and cost overruns that have previously plagued rail and tunnel projects across the country. Having studied up on the past challenges, UC Berkeley researchers offer these recommendations as reported by Construction Dive:
- Fund local transportation agencies so they can staff up and plan ahead more.
- For project leaders: build more time and cost contingency into estimates to account for potential design challenges and other issues. Also factor site-specific challenges into route design prior to setting time and cost estimates.
- Maintain project scope, and avoid adding significant, non-essential elements after the design stage.
- Break up the work into smaller contracts to increase flexibility, instead of one sprawling agreement. The Los Angeles Purple Line project was built on-time and on-budget with this method.
- Use a construction-manager-at-risk procurement method so builders can provide input on the design, like the successful Mid-Coast Corridor Trolley project used in San Diego.
- Consider advance utility relocation contracts to expedite utility-related work in tunneled areas and around stations.
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