Professional and Career Topics

  • 1.  Should ASCE Give a Report Card on Major Infrastructure Project Planning and Execution?

    Posted 01-11-2022 07:26 PM

    Did anyone catch the December article on Bloomberg Why U.S. Infrastructure Costs So Much? The article cites data by New York University's Marron Institute of Urban Management that mile for mile the US is a global leader (not a good thing) in transportation infrastructure costs. The Boston Green Line Extension is cited as a case study of a project that has gone pear shaped (my words). What is the fix? I don't think it's simply skills. Does the ASCE have a role in giving a grade for infrastructure project planning and execution (e.g., cost, schedule, and quality) , analogous to the report card it prepares for existing infrastructure? The infrastructure bill that recently passed is great news.  However, if no one is watching how the money is spent, and history repeats as it oft does, the regrets will include less projects and less CEs employed than otherwise possible.



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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 2.  RE: Should ASCE Give a Report Card on Major Infrastructure Project Planning and Execution?

    Posted 01-12-2022 07:40 AM
    The 2020 Report Card for Rhode Island was published about halfway through the RhodeWorks program.  RhodeWorks is a 10 year state plan to repair the roads and bridges.  It is an attempt to be transparent about costs and schedules in an effort to reach its goals within the decade timeframe.  Our local NPR station recently reported on the progress and requested my comment.

    RhodeWorks five years in: improvements, but still a ways to go
    The Public's Radio remove preview
    RhodeWorks five years in: improvements, but still a ways to go
    In 2016, Rhode Island approved a controversial plan to improve its poorly maintained roads and bridges. Five years later, the state's infrastructure is getting better and the negative effects predicted by critics have not happened. But Rhode Island's roads and bridges still have a ways to go.
    View this on The Public's Radio >





    The state needs to take the initiative.  ASCE and engineers have a role in highlighting the need to address infrastructure.  While public safety is our responsibility, we also need to be mindful of offering value engineering to our clients, whether they are the state or private.

    Is RhodeWorks working?  It remains to be seen.  Transparency is key and it is good to see the media checking in.

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    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
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  • 3.  RE: Should ASCE Give a Report Card on Major Infrastructure Project Planning and Execution?

    Posted 01-17-2022 12:58 PM
    There are so many public plans that are published with fanfare but never acted upon. ASCE should grade them on their commitment to completing their promises realizing that the plan may change along the way but the end goals are definite.

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    Martin Johnson P.E., M.ASCE
    Director
    Laguna Woods CA
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  • 4.  RE: Should ASCE Give a Report Card on Major Infrastructure Project Planning and Execution?

    Posted 01-18-2022 08:18 PM
    Creep in costs comes down to estimation and planning up front.  Many infrastructure projects should be quite straightforward to estimate.  Maybe engineers just aren't all that great at planning and estimating, and we shouldn't kid ourselves into thinking we are.  Professionally trained, financially savvy project managers should be heavily involved-and accountable for their estimates.  And project owners should have their own professional project management firms negotiating for the owner's interests, perhaps with a surety bond which pays the project owner if the project cost exceeds the estimate. Engineering firms continue transferring capable civil engineers out of the field of engineering and into management (they might even call it a promotion), as if project management is merely common sense, something engineers can just pick up over the years.  Engineering is technical; leave the financial work to actual experts.

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    Dudley McFadden P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE
    Principal Civil Engineer
    Roseville CA
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