Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published a report giving the U.S. a D+ grade for infrastructure conditions and performance. The report, published every four years, gained a lot of attention, with stories about the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure constantly making headline news across the U.S. From bridges and tunnels, to transit, rail and airports, improvements are needed to ensure that the U.S. is built for the future.
Here are some staggering statistics from ASCE:
– Of the 614,387 bridges in the U.S., 9.1% (or 56,007) are deemed structurally deficient.
– One out of every five miles of America’s major highways are in poor condition and in need of extensive rehabilitation. As a result, congestion and traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel.
– 24 of the top 30 major airports may soon experience “Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume” at least one day every week.
An example of a roadway in need of major improvements and a complete overhaul is Interstate 4 (I-4) in Florida – and it is getting help via an important civil infrastructure effort in the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project. The project is using a public-private partnership (P3) delivery method to bring in private investment to complete the project.
As one of Florida’s largest transportation projects ever and one of Skanska’s three P3s in the U.S., the I-4 Ultimate is building in a sustainable manner and has received the highest sustainability recognition: the Institute For Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision® Platinum Certification. I-4 Mobility Partners (I4MP), the project consortium, was honored with the award at a ceremony held in Orlando, Florida.
Several industry leaders formed the I-4 Mobility Partners team to design, build, finance, and operate the project thru a 40-year P3 concession agreement with a total design and construction cost of $2.323 billion dollars. The members of the I4MP team include the following:
– Skanska Infrastructure Development (Equity Member)
– John Laing Investments Limited (Equity Member)
– SGL Constructors (SGL) – Construction Joint Venture – Skanska (Lead Joint Venture Partner) Granite Construction Company and the Lane Construction Corporation
– Design Joint Venture – HDR Engineering, Inc. and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. (Lead Engineer)
– Infrastructure Corporation of America (Lead Operations and Maintenance Firm)
I-4 Ultimate, the reconstruction of 21 miles of roadway in Central Florida, is the largest project to date to receive the Envision® Platinum certification. This is the second Skanska project to receive this distinction (Expo Line Phase 2 in Los Angeles, CA was Skanska’s first project to earn Envision). The award recognizes sustainability measures applied in the planning and design phases of a project.
At a time in our nation’s history where we have an opportunity to repair and construct new infrastructure for the continued safety and health of our country, there’s something to be said about building with the environment in mind; mainly because that’s just smart building. Simply said, sustainability measures are critical and should be implemented at the onset of every project.
Certifications, such as Envision®, are attainable on all civil infrastructure projects. With the I-4 Ultimate project, we don’t have to look far to know that this is true.
Steps Taken To Achieve ENVISION
Envision, which was created in 2012, provides a framework for evaluating infrastructure projects similar to how the LEED® evaluation system works for building projects. Envision has five areas under which points are assigned: quality of life, leadership, resource allocation, natural world, and climate and risk.
The I-4 Ultimate project received high scores in three of those categories:
Quality of Life: Central Florida’s local history and unique community character are reflected in the design because there are hundreds of nearby buildings, districts and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of these places are within the project limits, including the town of Eatonville, Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District.
Leadership: To meet the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) sustainability goals, an agenda was created early in the program to provide the project’s foundation. This includes social priorities such as health and safety, community involvement and business ethics; environmental priorities, including energy, carbon, materials, water and local impacts; and economic priorities such as project selection criteria, supply chain management and value added to society.
Natural World: A comprehensive Contamination Management Plan and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan was developed to prevent pollutants from contaminating soils, surface water and groundwater. Four underground storage tanks and 145 tons of soil contamination from historic releases have been removed from the project site.
Invasive species are controlled by removing existing Brazilian Pepper trees and Tropical Soda Apple shrubs along the project’s right-of-way, while including non-invasive native plants for landscaping and maintaining wetland functions.
What this Means for Future Infrastructure Projects
The ongoing conversations about needed investment to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure are complicated, but building sustainably shouldn’t be. There is a real opportunity to not only ‘do the right thing,’ but to build environmentally conscious projects that will have lasting effects for decades to come. Not to mention, it’s good business for both the public and private sectors and can deliver economic, social and environmental benefits in the process.
Envision, as an example, helps quantify those benefits and make them demonstrable at the critical point of procurement – when decision makers have the best chance to make impactful and lasting decisions.