Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act - What’s Ahead? - NAXSA

Since the beginning of 2021, there has been a lot of discussion about what to fund and how to fund infrastructure projects. Historically both political parties have promoted infrastructure as a way to stimulate jobs and the economy. Finally, near the end of last year, we had an approved Bill that will promote construction projects for the next five years. The Bill totals $1.2 trillion which supplies money to keep the existing Highway Trust Fund going for the next five years.

If we break the Bill down about 40% of the total covers the Highway Trust Fund (which is improvement and maintenance of existing Federal Highways) and there is about $550 Billion in funding for new spending on a variety of projects. The balance of the Bill is broken up into a variety of sectors and projects for specific purposes. Let me take a look at the specific categories that are included in the bill and the type of work that might be related to our Members.

WHO GETS THE FUNDING?

The information about specific projects and exactly how all that money will be spent is still uncertain. I can say that the Highway Trust Fund money will be allocated exactly the way it has been done since its inception. As you may know that Trust Fund is sustained by Federal taxes on gasoline, but since vehicles are more efficient and our politicians have not increased those taxes, maintenance of our highway system has been suffering for a long time. So, our Members who are involved with traffic safety, bridge deck repair, signage, and other safety items are looking good for the next five years.

The rest of the money will be allocated to all the states with some states possibly gaining more than others. Preliminarily, it appears that California, New York, and Texas will be the big winners after the dust clears. One item that I picked up in my research is that Michigan is projected to get $1.3 billion in funding for improving its water distribution system. You can find more detailed information about projects and funding at the White House Briefing Room. Each State is listed and their link will take you to the best and latest information for your area or State.

I can tell you that the above information and links are the best I can offer at this time, but my experience tells me that everything is subject to change. My best guess is that the funding will begin in the 1st quarter of 2022 and project starts will vary depending upon their engineering status, permits, and environmental status. I expect the first half of 2022 to be a ramp-up and the second half to see more project starts.

Let’s look at some of the major funding categories that our members might be interested in.

$110 BILLION: ROADS, BRIDGES, AND MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

  • We all know that these types of projects require a lot of drainages, structure footings, retaining walls, etc., boxes and slide rail, etc.

$66 BILLION: PASSENGER AND FREIGHT RAIL

  • I personally worked on projects like this and so I anticipate there will be some work on drainage improvements. Mostly shallow work but labor-intensive.
  • Expanding passenger terminals may require footing and foundation work along with communication cables. Again, shallow work — boxes, slide rail, etc.

$65 BILLION: BROADBAND

  • This might turn out to be mostly equipment but they should need towers, some underground control cables, and some type of underground chambers. Shallow work but boxes, shores, and slide rail may be needed.

$42 BILLION: AIRPORTS AND PORTS

  • This work can be deceiving since most airports and ports are also funded by Authorities that have their own money. That means that the amount of work may be many times this number.
  • Ports are on the water which does not work with our equipment but most of these projects have drainage, sewer, power, and structure requirements that are adjacent to the river or ocean, and that work needs boxes, shores, and slide rail.
  • Airports are the same story and all of those projects will require foundation footings, conduit work, parking garages, highway ramps, etc. Again boxes, shores, and slide rail.

$21 BILLION: SUPERFUND AND BROWNFIELD SITES

  • This category is long overdue for an upgrade. There was a push in the late ’80s and ’90s for cleaning up the land that had been contaminated, and for the past 20 years, the work continued, but at a reduced rate. I can tell you that this amount, while a good start, only addresses a small fraction of the contaminated sites in our country. This type of work is engineering intensive and will be addressed using steel sheeting, boxes, and slide rail.
  • Be on the lookout for landfill cleanup and rebuilding.

I hope that this review is helpful as it pertains to our excavation shoring industry. Keep in mind that this is the funding provided in the Bill for the next five years and that in addition to this money, public works construction has averaged $158 billion per year, and that should continue. Adding this spending to our annual expenditures should make a dramatic difference in the amount of work in everyone’s area. Now our individual companies have to perform the work well and our Association must assist to make sure we work safely and protect our industry workers.

By: Brian Crandall, NAXSA President

The North American Excavation Shoring Association (NAXSA), is created to promote the safe and efficient use of excavation shoring practices. NAXSA was formed to represent manufacturers, engineers, rental companies/distributors, universities/educators, associates/suppliers, and government agency representatives who share the common goal of maintaining safety in the excavation shoring industry with the result of zero deaths and injuries.

Visit the NAXSA website here.

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