Board of Direction Approves Revisions to ASCE Policies

February 21, 2013

At a meeting held via conference call on January 22, the members of the Board of Direction approved revisions to two important ASCE policies, namely, Policy 480 (“Water Infrastructure and Facilities Construction Funding”) and Policy 503 (“Parks and Recreation Infrastructure”). They also voted to make the Society of Women Engineers an associate member society of ABET and approved the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, in Louisiana, and the Troy–Waterford Bridge and its predecessor, in New York, for inclusion in the Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program.

Concluding that the United States faces an investment gap of more than $20 billion a year between what water and wastewater systems need to spend to meet federal requirements and what they are currently spending, the board approved a revision to Policy 480 calling for a roughly $300-billion increase over the next decade in federal, state, and local infrastructure funding to do the following:

• Raise awareness of the true cost of water;
• Reinvigorate the state revolving loan fund programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act;
• Eliminate the state cap on private activity bonds for water infrastructure projects so that private financing can be brought to bear on the problem;
• Explore the potential of a body that would finance innovations in water infrastructure (“Water Infrastructure Financing Innovations Authority”) by accessing funds from the U.S. Treasury at Treasury rates and using those funds to support loans and other credit mechanisms for water projects;
• Establish a federal water infrastructure trust fund to cover the shortfall in funding for infrastructure systems under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Concerned about the accelerated deterioration of the U.S. national parks and of the infrastructure supporting other federal recreation facilities and about the general reduction in investment for the preservation and enhancement of park facilities, the board approved a revision to Policy 503 that supports sustained federal action to invest in infrastructure at America’s national parks, monuments, and battlefields and at other recreation facilities managed by the federal government.

ASCE’s 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s public parks and recreation facilities a C–. Policy 503 estimates that, as a result of stagnant budget appropriations in the preceding years, the National Park Service faced a $6.1-billion maintenance backlog by 2000. ASCE believes the situation can be reversed by using the monies collected through on-site user fees and concessionaire agreements for maintenance, operations, and enhancements.

As a member society of ABET, ASCE was asked to approve the admission of the Society of Women Engineers as an associate society member of ABET. ABET’s board found that that society’s admission as an associate member society would be beneficial for both organizations and would reinforce the position of women in the engineering profession. At its meeting, ASCE’s board agreed and voted to grant the Society of Women Engineers associate member society status within ABET.

On the recommendation of ASCE’s History and Heritage Committee, the board approved landmark status for the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Program. The bridge, which, according to Guinness World Records, was the longest continuous bridge over water in the world when it was completed, in 1956, links the Louisiana communities of Metairie and Mandeville. The board decided that the causeway warranted recognition not only because it was the longest continuous bridge over water at the time of its completion but also because it was the first bridge to be constructed using hollow prestressed-concrete piles 54 in. in diameter. The prestressed piles were produced by a revolutionary procedure that yielded a drier, more compact concrete of higher strength.

The board also approved landmark status for both the Troy–Waterford Bridge and its predecessor. The structures were nominated by the Mohawk-Hudson Section and recommended for the landmark program by the History and Heritage Committee. The Troy–Waterford Bridge, which carries Route 4 over the Hudson River, has two lanes, along with a sidewalk on each side. Its predecessor, Union Bridge, was the first bridge ever built over the Hudson. It opened in 1804 and served the public for 105 years. The present bridge was constructed in 1909. Together, these two bridges, on the same piers, have served the area for more than 200 years, and according to the board, that makes the structures unique in the history of American bridge building.

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