5 Ways Transportation Infrastructure Leaders Can Prepare for New Federally Funded Projects
by Magdy Mikhail, Ph.D., P.E. | August 29, 2022
With the introduction of new federal funding streams through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), transportation infrastructure leaders are anticipating an abundance of upcoming projects. Here are five ways to prepare your transportation infrastructure organization to deliver results on federally funded projects.
1. Prioritize Your Transportation Infrastructure Projects
Start by identifying your essential transportation infrastructure projects. “Creating a prioritized list may involve dusting off contemplated projects that didn’t have funding before and then determining whether those match the priorities enabled through the infrastructure bill,” says Erik Blum, project controls practice leader at HNTB. Make sure you put the most immediate needs at the top of the list especially considering the current global situation that could impact materials, schedules and labor. “Current supply chain and cost challenges could eat into some of the available projects that might otherwise get funding.”
“Creating a prioritized list may involve dusting off contemplated projects that didn’t have funding before and then determining whether those match the priorities enabled through the infrastructure bill.”
Erik Blum | Project Controls Practice Leader | HNTB
2. Anticipate New Regulations
Like many federal funding sources, ARPA and BIL funds come with strings attached. To gain approval for their projects, state and local departments must demonstrate that they will adhere to new regulations around sustainability, resiliency, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) best practices.
Agencies should become familiar with the new compliance requirements and prepare to meet them with adequate documentation when pursuing funding for transportation infrastructure projects. “We’ve formed committees on things like sustainability and resiliency to look at the requirements and make sure we have the data and performance measurements in place to demonstrate compliance,” says Tricia Stefanski, Statewide Asset Manager at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
3. Ensure High-Quality Data When Seeking Infrastructure Funding
With federal requirements to demonstrate compliance with sustainability, DEI, and resiliency regulations tied to the funding, agencies must make sure they have the right metrics in place—and the ability to generate, track and report on high-quality data. “We’re setting up a structure of getting information and making decisions, establishing performance measures and then evaluating existing data we have in the system to see what we can use,” Stefanski says. “We’ve also been looking at how we move forward with tracking new data and what our goals are.”
As agencies seek funding for transportation projects, data will play an increasingly important role. “Big data has been with us for a little bit, but now it’s really going to get leveraged to even be able to show that you qualify for some of this funding,” says Linda Rolfes, Senior Technical Project Manager at HNTB. “It brings a new need for data at a greater scale, going forward, to prove that you qualify and you’re following the regulations.” Digital solutions such as construction project management software, asset management tools, ERPs, and other data streams can help agencies generate and harness the data needed for compliance.
4. Lean on Outside Support
With limited timelines for completion defined in the federal funding requirements, transit agencies face the prospect of large infrastructure projects that must be completed in a short amount of time. “It’s unprecedented, paired with the workforce shortage, and I think our agencies are going to have to lean on more outside support to be successful,” says Rolfes. “From a project or program basis, you’re dealing with multiple cultures and multiple data sources and will have to pull all that together in an organized way to deliver on the projects.”
“From a project or program basis, you’re dealing with multiple cultures and multiple data sources and will have to pull all that together in an organized way to deliver on the projects.”
Linda Rolfes | Senior Technical Project Manager | HNTB
5. Ensure Cybersecurity Within Construction Project Management Systems
With many agencies adopting more digital tools for construction project management and asset tracking, cybersecurity remains of paramount importance. “Hacks and attacks are happening across the globe, often for nothing more than the ability to try and extract a ransom from organizations that are crippled through a cyberattack,” says Blum. “Industry leaders need to be knowledgeable about cybersecurity best practices and how to train their employees. We hope the digital transformation funding in the infrastructure bill will support these efforts.”
As you prepare to seek federal funding and apply it to your upcoming transportation infrastructure projects, e-Builder can keep your organization connected and your projects on track, providing your teams with a central hub for communication, document management, scheduling, reporting and more.
Additionally, Trimble’s AgileAssets offers asset management solutions for transportation networks of all sizes and budgets. Whether you manage sidewalks, roadways, or other pavement assets—balancing the performance of the network against the cost to maintain it is paramount to your program’s continued success.
Watch the full webinar: Infrastructure Summit Breakout: Roads and Bridges.
Key Topics Covered: infrastructure