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America's GPA: D+
Estimated Investment Needed by 2020:
$3.6 Trillion

#GameChanger Trend – Next Generation Pavement

August 19th, 2015 | By: America's Infrastructure Report Card

The United States has more than two million miles of paved roads. Maintenance is a continual issue for local and state transportation agencies, but new pavements being developed are more sustainable, less costly, and yield other benefits such as capturing stormwater runoff. There are several innovative pavement types that are gaining traction, including:
  • Porous pavements: Porous pavements allow stormwater to percolate through the pavement and enter the soil below. Porous pavements work by allowing streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and other typically impervious covers to retain their natural infiltration capacity. In many instances porous pavements can be used in place of conventional asphalt or concrete in an ultra-urban environment. They are generally not suited for areas with high traffic volumes or loads.
  • Rubberized asphalt: Waste materials like rubber tires are being incorporated into pavement products.
  • Warm-mix asphalt: A recent survey found that almost a third of all asphalt produced during the 2013 construction season was produced using warm-mix asphalt technologies, compared to less than five percent in 2009.
Here are your game changers for this week! Roads Built from Tires – Huntington Beach, California California generates more than 40 million scrap tires every year. While nearly 75 percent of used tires are recycled, the rest still end up in landfills or illegal dumps. Ground tire rubber can be blended with asphalt to beneficially modify the properties of the asphalt in highway construction. Through the department’s Green Roads program, CalRecycle is reducing the amount of tires disposed in California’s landfills by putting waste tires to new use as rubberized asphalt concrete. The City of Huntington Beach, California used grant funding from the program to improve six miles of arterial streets that were riddled with potholes, sunken areas, and crumbling pavement. The rubberized asphalt is expected to extend the lifespan of the pavement by an additional 10 to 20 years. Recycling Pavement – Staunton, VA On a four-mile section of Virginia’s I-81, a major north-south freight corridor, the pavement was 43 years old, well past its intended design life, and heavier volumes of truck traffic were taking a toll. The Virginia Department of Transportation moved forward with a $10 million project that reused existing materials from the underlying road structure, while the driving surface received a new overlay of asphalt. The road construction method was not only environmentally sustainable — it reduced construction time by about two-thirds and saved Virginia millions, compared to the cost of conventional reconstruction. Traditional pavement construction would have required building another travel lane and would have taken one to two years to complete. By using in-place recycling, the project time was cut to seven months, resulting in significant cost savings, and reduced traffic disruptions. Alleys that Drink Stormwater Runoff – Boston, Massachusetts The city of Boston recently completed a new 508-square-foot “porous alley” that absorbs stormwater and filters it into the ground, rather than allowing it to make its way into the sewer system where it has to be treated. Construction of the alley is part of a larger effort to boost the quality of water in the rivers surrounding Boston. Like many other localities, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission had to pay a fine for violating the Clean Water Act and take steps to minimize pollutants going into the waters. The porous surfaces also help keep ground water at optimal levels in neighborhoods such as the South End, where many buildings were constructed on top of wood pilings, which can rot if exposed to open air. The nearby town of Arlington, Massachusetts, also used porous pavement for a project on Hurd Field to protect the water quality of adjacent Mill Brook.   Every day, new Infrastructure #GameChangers are changing how we build and use infrastructure. ASCE collected these game changing trends in energy, freight, transportation and water infrastructure into an interactive, web-based report at ASCEGameChangers.org. Find out more here, share these trends on social media using #GameChangers, or submit your own #GameChangers project!

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Virginia's Infrastructure Struggle for Status Quo

January 23rd, 2015 | By: Infrastructure Report Card

With a state that’s growing as fast as Virginia, you’re bound to have growing pains, but none are as striking or obvious as the traffic gridlock across the state. So, would you be surprised that the Virginia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave roads a D grade in their new 2015 Report Card for Virginia’s InfrastructureVA RC? While some big steps were taken by the legislature in 2013 to bring renewed funding to transportation, may end up only keeping the status quo of transportation troubles across the state whether by car or transit. Another growing pain issue for Virginia is there are a lot of dams in the state (1,789 to be exact) and the number of people that now live behind old dams has increased with the growth of the state. The majority of dams were constructed between 1950 and 1975, making the average age more than 50 years old. With an increasing population, more houses and businesses are now below dams which means there’s more risk for damage and lives being lost if there was a failure. The good news is that Virginia has made a lot of progress in identifying and educating owners on how to fix dams that are considered high-hazard, but the bad news is that 141 of these high-hazard dams do not meet current dam safety standards, resulting in a grade of C for Virginia’s dams. Growth is also affecting schools as localities try to keep up with growing schools in some areas and older school maintenance in localities that seem to be losing students and residents. Not only is Virginia growing, but its infrastructure is also starting to show its age with basic services like water, wastewater, and stormwater representing the old infrastructure bones of the cities. Virginia’s 2,830 public water systems providing drinking water to more than 7 million Virginians, and the Report Card found that many of these systems are 70 years or older and require significant asset renewal in the immediate future. The bad news is that funding is slim – from 2000 to 2012, the state only saw $200 million in Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which is less than 10% of the commonwealth’s total investment needs. Wastewater needs have jumped 45%, and best estimates show $1 billion is needed to control overflows that pollute local waters. Also, stormwater systems are equally old, and surveys show about one-third of the infrastructure is older than 50 years and much of the remainder was built 25 to 50 years ago. While every bit of funding helps, the reality is Virginia’s water systems are only getting older each day and each dollar available is being split between trying to fix yesterday’s problems and today’s. Growth and age are like a one-two punch to Virginia’s infrastructure causing a real struggle to maintain an acceptable level of infrastructure service for the state. Virginia’s C- infrastructure shows the Commonwealth is barely maintaining the status quo, and without significant change, it will be a struggle to maintain even the current gridlock of roads and frequent water pipe breaks without new solutions. In the Report Card, they give 3 solutions to raise Virginia’s grades: 1. Increase Leadership in Infrastructure Renewal: Virginia’s infrastructure is the responsibility of all our leaders. We need bold leadership and a vision for how strategic infrastructure investment can improve the current status quo. 2. Promote Sustainability and Resilience: Today’s infrastructure must meet the state’s needs in the best and worst of times, and also protect and improve the environment and our quality of life. 3. Develop Comprehensive Strategies: Virginia should prioritize and execute infrastructure strategies that put our investments where they are needed most, according to well-conceived plans that focus on comprehensive solutions that provide a good return on investment. The Virginia legislature is just getting started, and there is no better time for them to take a second look at the infrastructure they are responsible for than now with a fresh update from the civil engineers who work on the state’s infrastructure every day.

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