Constructor - March/April 2014 - (Page 32)

Water Resources Develo Addresses Critical Infrastructure Ne STREAMLINED APPROVAL PROCESS WILL SAVE TIME AND MONEY FOR WATERWAY CONSTRUCTION BY SHERYL S. JACKSON AN 11-DAY SHUTDOWN OF NEW ORLEANS' Industrial Canal lock created a traffic jam of over 95 vessels along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in early January 2014. Three cracks in the 15-ft main steel gear in the lock delayed delivery of petrochemicals and other commodities with an estimated impact of $1 million a day. "Limited funding for maintenance and replacement of locks and dams that have surpassed their intended age have left us with a chaotic patchwork of repairs throughout the country's water transportation system," explains Jimmy Christianson, director of government affairs, federal & heavy construction division of the AGC of America. This pent-up need for repair or replacement of an aging infrastructure has focused attention on passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Although WRDA is not an appropriations bill, it serves as a roadmap that authorizes between 20 and 30 projects that are mostly new construction at an estimated cost between $10 and $30 billion, he explains. "In the 1980s and 1990s, WRDAs were passed every two years but since 2000, we've had seven-year gaps between passage of the Acts." Because prices increase and deterioration accelerates in seven years, the actual cost of projects that make it to the appropriations stage increases significantly, he adds. 32 constructor | M ARCH/ APRI L 2014 In addition to authorizing specific projects, the WRDA bill includes much-needed process reforms, points out Christianson. The current process to assess need, impact and cost of a project can mean the timeframe between identification of need to start of construction can take anywhere from 10 to 20 years, he explains. Multiple layers of reviews and requirements for different agencies create a burden that adds cost to the overall project and can result in a project that is out-of-date before construction begins, he adds. Reform of the study process will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to get projects to the approval stage in a timely manner. The WRDA bill limits study time to three years and a cost of $3 million by eliminating duplicative reports, streamlining approval processes, limiting timeframe for lawsuits related to the project and enabling innovative funding mechanisms that allow private-public partnerships to fund some projects. The bill also addresses the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund appropriations and expansion of the type of harbor construction for which the funds can be used. The seven-year delay between authorization for new construction projects along with the one-year budget process for funding Corps projects present several challenges to maritime and marine

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Constructor - March/April 2014

Editor’s Note
President’s Message
CEO’s Letter
Wise Investment
Simonson Says
Water Resources Development Act Addresses Critical Infrastructure Needs
Legislative and Regulatory News
Can-Do Attitude Meets a Job Well Done
Technology Toolbox
The Mobile Gold Rush
Index to Advertisers
Final Inspection

Constructor - March/April 2014