On Wednesday, the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies held a stakeholder’s perspective hearing on building more resilient infrastructure. This Subcommittee determines how federal dollars are allocated for each of these issue areas. ASCE Board of Direction Member, Carol Haddock, P.E., testified alongside Laura Lightbody, Project Director for Flood-Prepared Communities at Pew Charitable Trusts; Franklin Moon, Ph.D., Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rutgers University; and Jennifer Raitt, Director of Planning and Community Development at the Town of Arlington, MA.
The hearing, “Building Resilient Communities,” began with Chairman David Price (D-NC, 4th District) laying the groundwork of how appropriators must think about building our infrastructure:
“We need to incorporate resiliency into these so-called “base” programs and build smarter from the start—moving toward a proactive posture when it comes to strategic, capital, and operations planning at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agencies. Congress has taken some initial steps in this direction. The MAP-21 highway reauthorization from 2012 required states and localities to incorporate asset management into their long-range planning. Meanwhile, several modest pilot programs to assist states and other grantees with resiliency planning are winding down. Finally, we need to understand that building resilient communities isn’t just about storm-proofing; it’s also a potential catalyst for job creation, economic development, sustainable growth, and the wise stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”
In her testimony, Ms. Haddock highlighted the findings of ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card and Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future. She also addressed the need to build our infrastructure more resiliently; support mitigation efforts such as the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS); support appropriate use of Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) principles in the planning and design processes to evaluate the total cost of projects; support the development, adoption, and enforcement of a national model building codes; and match increased funding with robust research and development (R&D) programs.
This week’s hearing continued the legislative push on Capitol Hill aimed at developing and passing robust and broad infrastructure legislation. This discussion allowed the lawmakers in charge of allocating and spending money to hear how we can better use limited revenue resources to better improve our infrastructure’s life-span under current conditions. The discussion also emphasized the need to ensure how this vital component will keep our nation competitive in a 21st century marketplace.
ASCE is staying actively engaged as this legislative push continues on Capitol Hill. ASCE urges all infrastructure stakeholders to reach out to your Members of Congress and tell them to put forward a long-term plan to improve our infrastructure systems.