While we hope for fast resolution of political debates on transportation infrastructure funding, U.S. highways remain overloaded with traffic that wastes time and fuel and slows commerce, and limits growth. Whatever your politics, two things are certain: road construction can’t wait, and we must learn to do more with what we have right now. My colleagues and I at Tensar believe the key is increased focus on efficiency, on the application of existing, proven innovations, and on optimizing decisions for total, lifetime cost of ownership.
The strategic consultancy, McKinsey & Company, has repeatedly urged the infrastructure industry to embrace efficiency and innovation. “Delivering infrastructure more efficiently can reduce its whole cost by 15 percent,” the firm stated in a July 2015 infrastructure article. The article continued, “All told, efficiency gains in approval, engineering, procurement, and construction can generate savings of as much as 25 percent on new projects, without compromising the quality of outcomes.” Years later, we have yet to take advantage of these opportunities. In McKinsey’s February 2017 report, “Reinventing construction through a productivity revolution” it stated, “The industry has an intractable productivity problem.”
Forward looking DOT’s and road contractors have seen the productivity advantages of using proven technology advances, however most remain slow to adopt them. For example, independent research consistently shows that adoption of simple but powerful geogrid technologies (like Tensar’s TriAx products) meaningfully reduces the cost of materials used in constructing highways, while speeding time to completion and extending service life. Still, the leading construction research firm FMI estimates just 3% of all U.S. road mileage built in 2017 incorporated Geogrids, although the technology has been affordably available for decades.
Our path to A+ infrastructure must begin now with the adoption of ready-to-go, efficiency-driving highway innovations that do more with less, and improve our Country’s infrastructure sooner rather than later. To that end, Tensar will lend our voice to help recognize next weeks' "Infrastructure Week" as an affiliate. Keep an eye out for our activities and please join in the online conversation by liking, sharing and/or reposting throughout the week.
"The future won't wait. Neither can we. It's #TimeToBuild." ~infrastructureweek.org
Mike Lawrence, CEO, Tensar International
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