Infrastructure Needs Faster, Bolder Adoption of Innovations
by Wendy McBay, on May 13, 2019
This year marked the seventh annual Infrastructure Week, an initiative that calls attention to the increasing need to rebuild and modernize America’s aging infrastructure. This is not a political issue. Potholes are not partisan, and neither are crumbling bridges.
Roads and highways, the backbone of the U.S. transportation system, include too many lane miles that are reaching the end their useful life and in poor condition. Americans feel the effects every day in the form of traffic congestion, lengthened commutes and vehicle maintenance costs.
The state of our infrastructure and how it impacts our communities and economy is well-documented. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) releases its Infrastructure Report Card, providing a snapshot of the condition and performance of U.S. infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card. We have not scored higher than a D+ since 1998. When drilling down to individual sectors, the most recent ASCE Report Card gave bridges a C+ and roads a D. That was in 2017.
What can we do to raise our grades by 2021?
Adopt the road to A+
Increased funding and smart investments in construction technologies and materials are key to bringing up our grade. But while we wait and hope for passage of a federal infrastructure bill, we must learn to do more with what we have right now. Decision-makers must move more quickly to adopt existing, proven innovations so we can deliver road and highway projects more efficiently—in terms of both time and money.
Innovative technology provides one path forward. For instance, using cloud-based tools and mobile devices to streamline project management, or operating drones to quickly and safely perform surveying and inspection tasks in hard-to-reach or treacherous areas can save time, money and lives. Additionally, careful product selection can help futureproof infrastructure—e.g., selecting road lighting features, line paint and signage that accommodate emerging technologies like autonomous cars. Still, for many the words “innovative technology” bring with them the specter of higher risk. But innovation in transportation isn’t just digital technology and driverless cars. There are big performance benefits available, right now, from innovative materials and design approaches that let us build better roads, and build them more efficiently. These approaches deliver proven results, and they can be implemented with existing funding to make our money go further.
We urge road contractors and transportation offices to accelerate the adoption of high-impact materials and techniques that prolong the useful life of roads and highways while making them safer and more reliable. Tensar’s geogrid technology is a prime example. Building better pavements with TriAx Geogrid is a simple but powerful way to deliver long-lasting roads with lower construction and maintenance costs. Less material is needed when using geogrids, which speeds construction. With over 1 million ESALs of research to back-up its performance, geogrid has proven itself time and again to extend the life of pavements, which reduces the maintenance costs associated with those roads.
Faster, bolder adoption of proven innovations that do more with less will help deliver the projects needed to improve our national transportation system. Better infrastructure shortens commutes, reduces health-threatening congestion, and increases both worker productivity and family and leisure time. America’s future will be shaped by the infrastructure choices we make today. So let’s #BuildForTomorrow.
At Tensar, finding solutions that lower construction costs and bring added value is at the top of our list. That’s why we put our experts to work, showing contractors and engineers around the world how to build smarter infrastructure using geogrid technology. Click here to learn how TriAx Geogrid can help you build better pavements.
Ready to Learn More?
One out of every five miles of highway pavement is reported to be in poor condition, and our roads have a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs. Check out our "ASCE Infrastructure Report Card" webinar or watch our "Traffic Effects on Subgrade Deformation" video to learn how Tensar's TriAx solutions can help you design pavements with longer life spans, even on limited budgets.