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Making the case for sustainable infrastructure solutions, CH2M asks: How well is your infrastructure working for you?

This week, CH2M invites you to join the conversation to let leaders know how much infrastructure matters to you and your family.

It’s Infrastructure Week in America, and CH2M wants to know: How well is your infrastructure working for you? The question comes at a time when the nation’s “big three” infrastructure systems—water, transportation and power—are showing their age, long overdue for improvements. This week, CH2M invites you to join the conversation to let leaders know how much infrastructure matters to you and your family.

“America’s infrastructure is critical to public health, safety and our quality of life,” says CH2M Chairman and CEO Jacqueline Hinman, who also serves as Chair of the Business Roundtable Infrastructure Committee. “As a nation, we possess the resources and options to turn this situation around for better performance and economic benefits, including robust reinvestment and innovative approaches to make our public infrastructure more scale-able and resilient.”

According to the Business Roundtable report Road to Growth: The Case for Investing in America’s Transportation Infrastructure, every $1 of investment in infrastructure generates an additional $3 in economic activity.  Two-thirds of the United States’ infrastructure will require repair or replacement in the next five to 10 years, at a projected cost of up to $3 trillion.

Hinman, who is featured in the Business Roundtable’s new video on infrastructure, cites needed improvements to legacy water and transportation systems as most critical in the United States. For these challenges, CH2M highlights sustainable approaches—such as those incorporating natural infrastructure, integrated resource management and smart technologies—making infrastructure systems more adaptable and efficient than ever, while returning greater social, environmental and economic benefits to communities. 

Natural infrastructure

For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York City commissioned CH2M and The Nature Conservancy to examine ways to improve resiliency of coastal communities with a study of Howard Beach in Queens, one of the areas most devastated by the storm. The study found that the best defense against storm surge is achieved by combining natural infrastructure, such as oyster beds and coastal vegetation, with structural features, like sea walls. After a series of projects demonstrating the benefits of green and gray infrastructure hybrids, the study partners developed the Natural Infrastructure Guide for Business platform (www.NI4biz.org) to advance the approach, including the business case for investing in natural infrastructure; case studies from different industries leveraging various ecosystem services; and decision-making tools with a cost-benefit analysis.

Integrated Water Management

There’s no greater resource-management challenge than that for water. Increasingly, local governments are reaching across jurisdictional lines and, in many cases, forming public-private partnerships to take an integrated, lifecycle approach in the management, delivery and renewal of public water.  In Tucson, Arizona, where the Lower Santa Cruz River supports desert life, the Pima County Regional Water Reclamation Department partnered with CH2M to design, develop and operate an advanced water reclamation facility to improve the river’s water quality and replenish supply. With the involvement of local businesses, residents and other stakeholders, the team unveiled an industry-first treatment process that achieved water-quality improvements targeted while also saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Funding Models for Transportation

Because the funding needed for transportation infrastructure exceeds current allocations, including the $305-billion Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act passed last year, communities are looking for alternative funding models to meet these critical needs. Examples include public-private partnerships (P3s), multi-jurisdictional grants, bonds and loans, as well as widely varying revenue structures across the states. Among them, CH2M points to the $2.9-billion bond-financed Grand Parkway System in Houston, funded with Texas’ largest municipal bond sale launched in June 2013 to finance the design, development, acquisition and construction of three segments of the Grand Parkway Project in Harris and Montgomery Counties. A public-private partnership, including the Texas Department of Transportation/Grand Parkway Transportation Corporation; Zachry-Odebrecht Parkway Builders; and CH2M acting as engineering consultant, provided a collaborative framework for the project’s successful completion in fewer than 1,000 days which opened to the public on March 29, 2016. The Grand Parkway provides an outer loop around metropolitan Houston for improved traffic flow and mobility-enhancing connectivity, with capacity for future growth.

Smart-enabled systems

Technology is playing a significant role in improving mobility for growing urban centers. In Oregon, the City of Portland is competing to be among the first U.S. cities to use data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods will move in the future.  As one of seven finalists for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge,  Portland hopes to leverage the $40 million grant, with the expertise of private-sector partners including CH2M, to implement  “Ubiquitous Mobility for Portland.” This smart city transformation will use the Internet of Things (IOT) technology and locally proven open-source data sharing to connect Portland’s diverse transportation ecosystem, while engaging all current and future modes, including transit, connected and autonomous vehicles, rideshare and bikeshare, electric vehicles and taxis.

“For 70 years, CH2M has partnered with clients and communities to solve the toughest infrastructure challenges while remaining mindful of the greater purpose we serve—delivering clean water, modern transportation networks, and leveraging technology for efficient management of all resources—ultimately to improve lives and the condition of our planet.”

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