LOWELL, Mass. TRC Companies Inc., a recognized leader in engineering, environmental consulting and construction-management services, today released its top predictions for the infrastructure sector in 2017, including a significant expansion of investment supported by new financing sources and alternative project delivery methods.
President-elect Trump has backed a $1 trillion, ten-year U.S. infrastructure upgrade program and promised on the night of his election victory the country will be served by “second to none” roads, bridges, tunnels, transit, airports, schools, hospitals, and more.
TRC infrastructure experts anticipate three major trends driving the market in the coming year:
- Expect a big – and differently funded – push for infrastructure upgrades. While details will need time to be worked out between the new administration and Congress, all signs indicate Washington is ready to back the first major, multi-year omnibus infrastructure program in years. We see a high likelihood the new administration and Congress will look to some innovative ways of financing projects, including new tax breaks to incentivize private funding of infrastructure, a national Infrastructure Bank providing seed capital for project development, or a combination of both, to complement traditional tax- and toll-funded government and authority bonding.
- More than one way to fix a bridge. We foresee interest continuing to grow in 2017 for alternative delivery methods to get projects built more quickly and less expensively: design-build contracts, public-private partnerships, construction manager/general contractor, and hybrid approaches combining elements of all of those. The traditional and time-tested design-bid-build approach will continue to be a robust and primary approach to managing projects. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s innovative 25-year PPP to design, replace, and maintain 558 Keystone State bridges with strict limits on how long they can be closed during work –- no more than 60 to 110 days depending on size — will be closely monitored by other states where motorists and taxpayers have been frustrated with long delays and disruptions associated with bridge work.
- Hot technologies will heat up basic infrastructure management. Though it could be years or decades before driverless cars and trucks are widely adopted, 2017 will see more breakthroughs from driverless transportation research and development reshaping transportation systems. Technology developed to support autonomous vehicles –- and the operational challenges of current highway design they’ve brought scrutiny to –- will propel efforts to improve the layout and operations of today’s roads, such as technology-enhanced systems that make on-ramp merging safer and manage vehicle spacing in places and times of heavy congestion. At the same time, use of drones for oversight of construction projects, inspections, and day-to-day highway operations will grow rapidly in 2017 as more governments and transportation authorities quantify the benefits and design protocols for drone use with the Federal Aviation Administration.
TRC CEO Chris Vincze said: “As more infrastructure in major U.S. metropolitan areas reaches the end of its useful life, TRC is well positioned to play a key role in facilitating upgrades across the country. Today’s ‘road and bridge contractors’ are working with or right next to so many other kinds of infrastructure: Gas, electric, and fiber-optic telecommunications, transmission, and distribution lines; water and sewer pipes; railroad and transit lines; and long-distance oil and gas pipelines. As a recognized leader in managing all aspects of linear construction, TRC provides a fully integrated approach to meet the challenges posed by the kinds of large-scale, complex infrastructure initiatives we expect to grow rapidly next year and beyond.”
TRC’s 4,100 professionals working from 120 locations in the U.S. and United Kingdom include hundreds of engineers and consultants with deep experience in delivering integrated infrastructure projects. The company’s expertise includes highway, roadway, railway and bridge engineering and design, construction management, civil site work engineering geotechnical engineering and drilling, and other related fields critical to successful infrastructure delivery.