Congressional hearing highlights using technology and innovations to advance America’s infrastructure

A first hearing in the 116th Congress of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee highlighted the importance of finding solutions to America’s infrastructure needs; solutions that include the safe integration of innovative technologies and reducing the length of the project delivery process.

“We all know that we have significant infrastructure needs, and we have to continue rebuilding and improving our infrastructure network—roads, bridges, ports, waterways, transit, railways, airports and water infrastructure. But we also have to realize, as we work to meet our needs for the long-term, that we have to think outside the box,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO). “We’ve got to take a transformative approach when it comes to our infrastructure. Our economy depends on it.”

“Technology also needs to be a central part of improving our infrastructure for the future. Integrating innovative technologies can not only make our infrastructure safer and more efficient, it can reduce costs, alleviate congestion and address environmental impacts,” Graves added.

Kristin Meira, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, pointed out the benefits of streamlining the project delivery process to U.S. ports, like the Port of Seattle. She highlighted U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reforms enacted under the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, which set hard deadlines on the time and costs of project studies (known as the 3x3x3 process).

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, representing the National Governors Association, highlighted governors’ support for incorporating technology as well as streamlining:

  • “Governors support federal actions that streamline project delivery, reduce approval and completion times, and increase transparency, but also achieve the intent that underlies critical environmental, planning, design and procurement reviews.”
  • “Governors believe that innovative technologies should be embraced to achieve resiliency, security and efficiency. Infrastructure should incorporate new capabilities related to increasing connectivity, autonomy, digital information and electrification.”

Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, referred to how technology could play a role in funding the Highway Trust Fund, given the challenges with the current user fees:

  • “We would also support any serious effort in this Congress to lay the groundwork for a transition to a mileage based user fee. As gasoline powered vehicles become more efficient and electric vehicles become more prevalent, contributions to the Highway Trust Fund will continue to dry up, leaving us back in the same position we are today.”

For more information from the hearing, click here.

Andrea Lee