Fall Conference Panel Addresses Federal/Local Infrastructure Relationship
Washington, DC – Elected officials and a panel of firm leaders discussed the recommendations in the recently published A Playbook for a New Infrastructure Partnership, which looks at improving how the federal government works with local governments to build the nation’s infrastructure. The Playbook was jointly produced by the ACEC Research Institute and Accelerator for America’s New Partnership for Infrastructure.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who chairs the Accelerator for America, kicked off the event by highlighting the importance of infrastructure to the national economy, saying it is “the key to the recovery.”
Talking about the prospects for infrastructure legislation in the new Congress, Congressman David Price (D-NC), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, said “Bigger is better. We’re long overdue for major infrastructure investment and that includes transportation, water, broadband, and housing.”
U.S. Representative John Katko (R-NY), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, said “This discussion could not be more timely,” and Congress needs to “continue pushing for substantive action on infrastructure.”
The panel discussion focused on how to improve federal infrastructure financing and funding programs. The premise of the Playbook is that the federal government needs to conform its programs to better meet local needs.
“Too often we see projects that are tailored to meet a scoring criteria rather than what’s important for a local community,” said Kimley-Horn President & CEO Steve Lefton. ”We have to allow the community to address local needs, and part of that means trusting local communities.”
The panelists pointed to pre-development funding as an example of a program that the federal government downplays but local governments value highly. “Pre-development funds are especially important for smaller communities,” said Sean McMaster, national practice consultant for the HNTB’s Advisory Services, Strategy & Transformation Group, because they may not have the resources to move projects far enough along to qualify for the broader federal infrastructure programs.
One of the key recommendations in the Playbook is for infrastructure programs to focus on “shovel-worthy” projects, which John Porcari, former president of WSP’s U.S. Advisory Services described as “transformative projects that will build tomorrow’s economy. It’s worth putting in the time and money to make them shovel-ready as opposed to focusing on ones that are ready to go.”
Today’s roundtable capped off a series of events organized by the ACEC Research Institute on the Playbook. To access those events, visit the ACEC Research Institute’s website at www.acecresearchinstitute.org.
The ACEC Research Institute is the research arm of the American Council of Engineering Companies – the business association of the nation’s engineering industry. The ACEC Research Institute’s mission is to deliver knowledge and business strategies that guide and elevate the engineering industry and to be the leading source of knowledge and thought leadership for creating a more sustainable, safe, secure and technically advanced built environment.