Constructor - March/April 2014 - (Page 32)
Water Resources Develo
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result in a project that is out-of-date before construction begins,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
Water Resources Development Act Addresses Critical Infrastructure Needs
Legislative and Regulatory News
Can-Do Attitude Meets a Job Well Done
The Mobile Gold Rush
Index to Advertisers
Constructor - March/April 2014