While Congress and the White House negotiate—or not—over a massive infrastructure bill, companies are getting and working contracts at the state level to improve and repair major public works. For example, Woolpert was contracted by the TxDOT (Texas Dept. of Transportation) for runway and taxiway maintenance at the airport at Addison, Texas.

The firm will provide design services for rehabilitation of runway 15/33, taxiway A and connecting taxiways, to improve safety and efficiency at the premier general aviation airport in north Texas. ADS, as it is known to pilots, is a general aviation reliever airport located within the Dallas Platinum Corridor. It is close to major business centers and within 30 minutes of the region’s major sports facilities. Woolpert, an aviation engineering, design, and geospatial services firm, has multiple offices in Texas.

Government regulations are not equal, not across the country nor across the border. Infrastructure contractors need to be aware of what the requirements are for bidding a job, doing the job, and closing the job, all often mandated by the government agencies involved.

Take for example the Canadian Provence of Ontario. The MTO (Ministry of Transportation-Ontario) has been partnering with Texas developer Aurigo Software since 2014, selecting the company’s Masterworks to help plan and deliver the province’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure program. In 2015, the agency selected the Aurigo platform to manage its construction, engineering, and operations service provider contracts.

In June, we noted the NEXT Coalition’s Construction Safety Challenge and explained how an industry group focused on infrastructure and construction was challenging the industry to come up with new and innovative ideas for meeting the COVID-19’s impact on jobsites across the country. The original companies forming the NEXT Coalition were Black & Veatch, DPR Construction, Haskell, and McCarthy Building Companies. They were soon joined by Swinerton and Truebeck Construction.

The NEXT Coalition has now chosen five pilot projects meant to protect crews against challenges posed by COVID-19. The pilot projects—chosen from 84 applications and products from 78 companies and startups who responded to a call for coronavirus solutions—include wearable technology for contact tracing and social distancing, digital pre-screening of workers, and smart video monitoring for health and safety.

In commercial property insurance, facilities that incorporate added safety and risk avoidance measures, such as sprinkler systems, are considered a ‘Highly Protected Risk’ and can earn more favorable insurance rates and terms. With a greater adoption of technology on construction jobsites, the opportunity exists to extend more competitive insurance coverage and capacity for projects that are taking action to reduce risks.

Safe, reliable, and clean drinking water is necessary for health and modern wastewater facilities are necessary to prevent public health issues. In rural areas, funding for infrastructure repair, remodeling and even new facilities can be a problem. As tax revenue falls due to the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, states, counties, and small towns are finding the federal government’s Dept. of Agriculture can be turned to for assistance.

The USDA recently began investing $268 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 28 states. The funding, across 76 projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, will help to improve rural water infrastructure for 267,000 residents.

Ghost towns are a staple of Western movies, zombie TV shows, and tourist areas in Texas, Nevada and Arizona among other places. Sometimes, the town comes back from the graveyard of dusty memories to become a new place to visit, usually for reasons well beyond what it was known for in its first iteration.

In the Big Bend area of Texas, where the Rio Grande’s path causes Texas to dip into the Northern region of Mexican State of Chihuahua, mining was a major source of economic growth in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The town of Terlingua, for example, was a center for cinnabar extraction which produces mercury. But depending on extraction means depending on the amount in the ground and that dried up in the early 1940s. By 1946, Terlingua was a ghost town.

Smart-city developments around the globe are anticipated to increase in the next several years—with a number of organizations predicting substantial growth. The pandemic in many cases is accelerating this need, as regulatory bodies are hyper focused on monitoring the health and safety of citizens. With the rise of the digital twin, cities have a tool to help make this a reality.

There is great potential for steady growth in the global smart-city market, with MarketsandMarkets predicting it will grow from $410.8 billion in 2020 to $820.7 billion by 2025, which is a growth rate of 14.8%. This includes adoption in transportation, utilities, buildings, and citizen services, thanks to the uptick in the IoT (Internet of Things), big data, analytics, cloud, security, and network connectivity.

The USDA (Dept. of Agriculture) does a lot more than support farm prices in hard economy times. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas. Despite the current pandemic, the Administration is helping rural places look to the future and this is opening up opportunities to keep contractors working.

Schools are beginning the slow and, hopefully, safe process of reopening from the months long closure mandated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Management, maintenance and service staff have been working to get the physical plants ready for the students, teachers and support personnel but in some cases, with buildings shut down for extended periods of time, the facilities are in need of far more than disinfectant wipes.

Indoor air quality is a critical subject as schools reopen and teachers and students return to their classrooms. Companies that can provide advanced HVAC and associated systems can be community leaders. One such company is Modine Manufacturing Co. Modine, with fiscal 2019 revenues of $2.2 billion, specializes in thermal management systems and assemblies, bringing highly engineered heating and cooling components, original equipment products, and systems to diversified markets. Their HVAC technology is state-of-the-art and provides upgrades for major school projects to ensure high-quality indoor air for those returning to in-person classes following pandemic-related closure.

Back in 1970, the famous Muppet Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green.” In 2020, being green is a lot easier—assuming you mean being environmentally concerned and using clean, renewable energy. New construction is often optioned with solar and even wind energy generation capabilities, including residential buildings. The solar industry’s role in rebuilding the American economy in the wake of COVID-19 is being heralded by leading corporations and congressional leaders.

In communities across America, economic development from large scale solar installations aids job growth and tax revenue. In the shadow of the pandemic, these projects deliver a much-needed boost to America’s economic recovery.

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